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Effect of irrigation pumping on desert pupfish habitats in the Ash Meadows, Nye County, Nevada

January 1, 1994

The Ash Meadows area, at the southern tip of the Amargosa Desert in southern Nevada, discharges ground water collected over several thousand square miles of a regional flow system developed in Paleozoic carbonate rocks. Water moves westward across fault contacts from the bedrock into poorly interconnected gravel, sand, and terrestrial-limestone aquifers in the upper few hundred feet of the basin sediments at Ash Meadows. A small pool in Devils Hole, which is a collapse depression in Cambrian limestone, and numerous springs in the adjacent desert valley contain rare fish species of the genus Cyprinodon, faunal remnants of Pleistocene lakes. The Devils Hole pupfish, C. diabolis, is the most endangered of the several surviving species that have evolved since the post-pluvial isolation of their ancestors. This population feeds and reproduces on a slightly submerged rock ledge. Recent irrigation pumping has nearly exposed this ledge. Correlation of pumping histories with the stage in Devils Hole allows identification of several wells that affect the pool level most severly. Some springs that are habitats for other species of Cyprinodon have reduced discharge because of pumping. Hydraulic testing, long-term water-level monitoring, water quality, and geologic evidence aid in defining the principal flow paths and hydraulic interconnections in the Ash Meadows area. (Woodard-USGS)

Citation Information

Publication Year 1976
Title Effect of irrigation pumping on desert pupfish habitats in the Ash Meadows, Nye County, Nevada
DOI 10.3133/pp927
Authors William W. Dudley, J. D. Larson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 927
Index ID pp927
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization