Date of Award

Winter 2007

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Russell G Congalton


Vernal pools are small, isolated, depressions that experience cyclical periods of inundation and drying. Many species have evolved strategies to utilize the unique characteristics of vernal pools; however, their small size, seasonal nature, and isolation from other, larger water bodies, suggest increased risk of damage/loss by development. The goals of this research were to statistically determine physical predictors of vernal pool presence and, subsequently, to represent the output cartographically for use as a conservation tool. Logistic regression and Classification and Regression Tree (CART) routines were used to define important variables (slope, aspect, land use, soils, and reflectance) of 405 known vernal pools across northeastern Massachusetts. The CART models performed most favorably, achieving cartographic accuracies as high as 97% and providing a set of rules for vernal pool prediction. This combined statistical and spatial approach represents an efficient and accurate method of identifying vernal pools in Massachusetts and other, similar landscapes.