Nature Springs Forth

12:30 PM, May 5, 2013   |    comments
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LOCKPORT, NY- "A day like today is heavenly to be out and see places like this! And every year it comes around again. If you miss it this year, catch it next year. "

Spring in Western New York can be as fleeting as it is beautiful. The annual renewal brings about a resurrection of life that can only be seen this time of year, and even then can be appreciated for a very short time.

Among that life are the Spring Ephemeral wildflowers. These woodland plants live most of their above-ground lives in the early part of the season, while the trees surrounding them are free of leaves. Stunning in their beauty, these forest blooms are the epitome of Spring. Paul Fuhrmann is a Biologist at Ecology & Environment." There's a relatively short window of sunlight that hits the forest floor, woodland floor, to support these plants, and they're pretty much done with their life cycle, go to flower and seed, once tree canopies start to leaf out and the woodland becomes shaded."

The Spring Ephemerals are beautiful but tough. Their early emergence and ability to persevere through the season's often fickle weather brings them a natural advantage, says Fuhrmann.
" Their advantage is, from evolution and probably for other mysterious reasons is that they emerge and go through their life cycle when there's relatively abundant moisture and sunlight, and they don't have to worry about drought periods and severe weather events as the other plants in a woodland environment all Summer and into the Fall."

Other early life in the Spring is beautiful in it's own right but a little harder to find. Turn over a rock and you might find one of several species of salamanders native to the region. They reproduce during the early Spring,and have a short window to do so. Ken Roblee is a Wildlife Biologist for the NY Department Of Environmental Conservation." This is a happening that takes place quickly. It only lasts for several nights during the first Spring rains that we have after snow melt. "

These amphibians rely on Vernal Pools to spawn. These are very small bodies of water caused by spring rains and melting snow. Roblee explains." A Vernal Pool is a temporary body of water . It's usually shallow, no more than a couple of feet deep, some of them are are just a few inches in depth. They're ephemeral, usually the water only lasts maybe into September, maybe into October, when many of our amphibians have metamorphosed into adults and left those breeding areas."

Fuhrmann says that Spring's transient nature is all the more reason to get out and explore, to experience it's bounty while the opportunity is there. " There's amazing things to see, and I don't think people spend enough time at least scratching the surface, and if they did, I think the pages would turn, and they could have that reconnect that our ancestors had hundreds of years ago."

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