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U.S. Forest Service
Res. Unit NE-4251
201 Holdsworth NRC
Univ. of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9285

(413) 545-0357

Fax: 413-545-1860

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Bob Brooks

Robert T. Brooks

Ph.D., State Univ. of New York
College of Environmental Science
and Forestry
Research Wildlife Biologist

Dr. Brooks studies the ecology of ephemeral or "vernal" pools of northeastern forests. These pools occur commonly in northeastern forests. Vernal pools are hydrologically isolated from other wetlands, streams, or lakes. Pools are principally expressions of weather, with precipitation being the main source of pool water and most water is lost through evapotranspiration. Potential changes in temperature and precipitation patterns due to global climate change could have serious impacts on pool hydroregimes. The hydroperiod or wet phase of these pools is typically seasonal in duration. The pool's ephemeral occurance provides pool fauna refuge from fish predation. The absence of fish predation has resulted in vernal pools being the preferred breeding habitat for some amphibian species such as wood frogs (Rana sylvatica), Ambystoma salamanders and numerous invertebrate species. However, the highly variable annual hydrology of vernal pools makes each year's breeding effort a gamble against time, as the pools inevitbly dry as spring progresses into summer. In the northeast, vernal pools are recognized as important and valuable habitats in the region's forests and are being given regulatory protection. In Massachusetts, forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Conservation Management Practices (CMPs) have been developed for vernal pools and vernal pool fauna. The effectiveness of these regulations for protecting pool-breeding amphibians and other pool fauna is the focus of Dr. Brook's vernal pool research. Dr. Brooks has recently begun a study of the bat community on the Quabbin Reservoir watershed in central Massachusetts. The first phase of this work uses acoustic surveys to characterize the species composition and relative activity patterns in 10 habitats on the Quabbin. Future work will focus on the effects of timber harvesting on roosting behavior of the northern (long-earred) myotis (Myotis septentrionalis).


  • The effectiveness of Massachusetts forestry Best Management Practices and Conservation Management Practices for vernal pools and vernal pool fauna
  • Projected climate change effects on the hydrology and ecology of vernal pools


  • Brooks, R. T. 2005. A review of basin morphology and pool hydrology of isolated ponded wetlands: implications for seasonal forest pools of the northeastern United States. Wetlands Ecology and Management 13:335-348.
  • Brooks, R.T. 2004. Weather-related effects on woodland vernal pool hydrology and hydroperiod. Wetlands 24:104-114.
  • Brooks, R.T. 2004. Early regeneration following the presalvage cutting of hemlock from hemlock-dominated stands. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 21:12-18.
  • Brooks, R.T. 2000. Annual and seasonal variation and the effects of hydroperiod on benthic macroinvertebrates of seasonal forest ponds in central Massachusetts, USA. Wetlands 20:707-715.
  • Brooks, R.T., and M. Hayashi. 2002. Depth-area-volume and hydroperiod relationships of ephemeral ("vernal") forest pools in southern New England. Wetlands 22:247-255.


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