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Want to Know What’s Percolating in Nearby Woods?

Immerse yourself in wetland science while enjoying food and friends at Science Pub RVA on Tuesday, January 28th. (Please note date change due to weather.) Join one of RVA’s creative scientists, Anne Wright a VCU stream ecologist, and find out what’s happening with our amphibian neighbors. This evening of discovery will increase your knowledge and appreciation of our often overlooked vernal pools. Doors open at The Camel at 5:30 p.m., Scientist takes the floor at 6:30 p.m. and Q & A follows.

Vernal pools are temporary pools of water which are both filled and dry during a year and are critical habitats for distinctive plants and animals. The word “vernal” means “occurring in the spring,” thus their name - since they are more prevalent in the spring. Because these pools are devoid of fish, they are safe environments for the development of amphibian species. These ephemeral pools provide breeding grounds for frogs, toads, salamanders and fairy shrimp, an indicator species. Vernal pools are important to the continuation of species as some adults only lay eggs in the area in which they were born. A whole population can basically become extinct if their pool is destroyed.

To learn more, watch this video filmed in the wetlands of the James River Park System and selected for screening at 2013’s Imagine Science Film Festival.

Anne Wright, Assistant Professor of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU and Coordinator, Life Science Outreach Education at VCU's Rice Center, will be talking about a citizen science research effort that built upon data collected in the 1980s by VCU biologists Charles and Leann Blem. The Blems documented over 200 vernal pools in 16 counties in Virginia.  The goal of the new effort was to learn how many of the pools still exist and analyze their current state of well-being. Wright’s new “pool check” team included scientists from VCU and the College of William and Mary plus many volunteers from the Virginia Master Naturalist program. “We’re working toward a higher awareness of these habitats because they are threatened. They are unique and important habitats and many people have no clue about them,” shares Wright. One goal of the research effort was to raise awareness and assist landowners to protect their vernal pools.  She will also talk about where the project is going from here.

Wright is also a partner in the new Science in the Park project that is showcasing geology, plant and animal life, rock pools, and more through a newly launched component on the James River Park System website called “Science in the Park.”

When is this month’s Science Pub RVA? Tuesday, January 28th at 5:30 p.m. (Date change due to weather.)Eat, drink and mingle and scientist takes the floor at 6:30 p.m. Open discussion follows.

Where is this month’s Science Pub RVA? In the casual atmosphere of The Camel at 1621 West Broad St., Richmond, VA 23220. Free parking is available in the Lowe’s parking lot directly across the street from The Camel.

Registration on Eventbrite is recommended for this free public event.

What is Science Pub RVA? A citizen-led endeavor connecting curious citizens and creative scientists. Science Pub RVA is part of NOVA Science Café’s network promoted by the long-running PBS program NOVA. To learn more about Science Pub RVA, visit their website or email Cynthia.Gibbs@sciencepubrva.com.

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