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Found only in warm desert waters, the diminutive desert pupfish once shared its world with mastedons and saber-tooth tigers. Its isolated water habitats face threat from invasive species and development, leaving most of these inch-long fishes endangered. At risk species include the Devil's Hole, White Sands, and Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfishes.

Survivors of a prehistoric network of lakes and streams, each species of springsnail is unique to its locale. Thousands of years later, these tiny models of biodiversity now face extinction as their spring-fed habitats are eliminated by groundwater pumping, and trampling by grazing livestock. As useful subjects for biomedical research of disease and skin behavior, the fate of endangered and sensitive species such as the Alamosa, Socorro and Moapa Valley springsnails impacts human health.

Members of the minnow family, dace are excellent indicators of water quality since they prefer clear waters to feed. Decline of threatened species such as Foskett and Ash Meadows speckled dace, Moapa and Spikedace help identify stream silting and bank degradation due to agricultural diversion and grazing damage.

Living a dual existence on land and in water, determined amphibians have been known to migrate as much as a half mile in search of life-sustaining water. Diminishing water supply, essential for breeding, and predatory invasive species pose the greatest threats to species such as the Chiricahua Leopard frog, Amargosa toad, Sierra Nevada Mountain Yellow-legged frog and Arroyo Southwestern toad. Their sensitivity to environmental toxins and climate change make them indispensable indicators of ecosystem endangerment that can take humans much longer to notice.

desert riparian forest
Two distinct forest types are found in desert riparian corridors. One is a high cottonwood canopy with an understory of native willow and grasses. The other is a lower and more open mesquite bosque. Both forms have a symbiotic relationship with waterways, acting to stabilize their banks and relying on periodic flooding to create silty banks essential for their seedlings. These oases also mediate environmental extremes of the desert by adding humidity, shade, and a windbreak, creating needed habitat for local animals and migrating birds. Unlike the mesquite with its bean-like seeds, the cottonwood isn't a direct food source, but instead shelters other edible plants and seeding trees. The Rio Grande Cottonwood, Screwbean Mesquite, and other varieties, all face threat from lack of groundwater, invasion by non-native species like the tamarisk (salt cedar), and bank erosion due to development and overgrazing.

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