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Oases: Finding hidden biodiversity gems in the southern Sonoran Desert

December 31, 2020

In the arid southern Sonoran Desert, the rugged canyons of the Sierra El Aguaje contain numerous freshwater oases. These habitats are supported by small springs which are usually located along geologic faults in volcanic and granitic bedrock. Genetic evidence from freshwater-obligate species (e.g., fish and frogs) suggests these or similar spring-fed habitats have persisted for thousands to millions of years. Though biologists are just beginning to study these habitats, at least 210 species of aquatic invertebrates have been documented, along with several species of fishes, amphibians, and semi-aquatic reptiles. Additionally, euryhaline fishes occasionally colonize freshwater habitats when hurricane-induced floods connect oases with the sea. At least six new, potentially endemic, species of aquatic invertebrates have been found in recent years, but much work remains to be done to fully document the biota of these oases. Groundwater pumping, introductions of nonnative species, and unmanaged human recreation all threaten the biodiversity of these desert oases. We hope this chapter will draw attention to these beautiful habitats and promote conservation of their unique biota

Publication Year 2021
Title Oases: Finding hidden biodiversity gems in the southern Sonoran Desert
DOI 10.7208/chicago/9780226694504.001.0001
Authors Michael T. Bogan, Carlos Ballesteros-Córdova, S. Bennett, Michael H. Darin, Lloyd T. Findley, Alejandro Varela-Romero
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70217914
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center