Continuous Water-Quality Monitoring of Middle Snake River Springs in Support of Threatened and Endangered Snail Species

Science Center Objects

Two species of aquatic snails, the Banbury Springs limpet (Idaholanx fresti) and the Bliss Rapids snail (Taylorconcha serpenticola) live in springs along the middle Snake River in south-central Idaho. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed these species as Endangered (Banbury Springs limpet) and Threatened (Bliss Rapids snail). Both species need clean, cold spring water to survive. 

Continuous monitoring of water quantity (discharge and depth) and water quality helps the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to respond to changing conditions in the springs to protect the Threatened and Endangered Species. In cooperation with them, we are providing observations at the following sites:

Niagara Springs near Buhl, Idaho

Niagara Springs near Buhl, Idaho

(Credit: Kenneth D. Skinner, Idaho Water Science Center. Public domain.)

The growth of aquatic plants known as macrophytes also appears to be reducing habitat for both species. Increased macrophyte growth is likely related to elevated nutrient concentrations, such as nitrogen, in spring water. Therefore, we are developing regression model relationships between the continuous water-quality data and nitrate) data at each monitored spring to estimate future nutrient concentration. This surrogate modeling reduces the cost of monitoring if nitrate samples were collected as often as would be necessary.  

This project would not be possible without the in-kind support of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Idaho Power Company.