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Threatened & Endangered Species

Amargosa pupfish
Amargosa Pupfish - USFWS photo

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge supports 25 plants and animals which are found nowhere else in the world. Of these unique "endemic species," five are currently listed as endangered and seven as threatened. The four endangered fish species found on the refuge are Devil's Hole pupfish, Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish, Warm Springs pupfish, and Ash Meadows speckled dace. One endangered plant occurring on the refuge is the Amargosa niterwort. Six species of plants are currently listed as threatened: Ash Meadows milk-vetch,, spring-loving centaury plant, Ash Meadows sunray, Ash Meadows ivesia, Ash Meadows gumplant, and Ash Meadows blazing star. The Ash Meadows naucorid, an aquatic beetle, is also listed as threatened.

Ash Meadows has a greater concentration of endemic life than any other area in the United States and the second greatest in North America. Twenty-five endemic species have adapted to live in and around the waters of Ash Meadows.

Approximately 10,000 years ago, large lakes and rivers were common in Nevada. As the climate warmed, these waters began to dry up, recede, and separate. This left behind isolated species within and around small bodies of water.

Of these endemic species, five are endangered and seven threatened with extinction. This is due to habitat destruction and competition with non-native species.

The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect threatened and endangered species and to conserve them in the wild. Ash Meadows has the most threatened and endangered species of any National Wildlife Refuge.

Endangered means there is still time. When a species becomes endangered, it indicates something is wrong with the ecosystem. The measures we take to save endangered species help ensure the world we leave for our children is as healthy as the world our parents left for us.

Devil's Hole pupfish occur naturally only within Devil's Hole. This small, water-filled cavern is adminstered as a disjunct portion of Death Valley National Park. Two additional populations of Devil's Hole pupfish are managed within "refugia" on the refuge. For public safety, and to protect the fish, security fences are maintained around Devil's Hole and the refugia.

Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish can be seen within most of the larger springs and streams on the refuge, and are especially visible and colorful at the Point of Rocks springs. Populations of this pupfish have recovered very well since the refuge was established in 1984 and are currently proposed for removal from the endangered species list.

The Crystal Spring Interpretive Boardwalk is a good location to view threatened plants such as spring-loving centaury, Ash Meadows gumplant and ivesia, as well as many other unique plants which require moist soils occuring in the proximity to this spring and stream. The boardwalk was designed to allow visitors access to this unique and fragile habitat, while protecting it.

In addition to all of the endemic species, a few pairs of endangered Southwestern willow flycatchers use Ash Meadows as breeding habitat from June through August each year. Two endangered species success stories, the peregrine falcon and bald eagle also use Ash Meadows seasonally as a migration stop over.


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Threatened & Endangered Species
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