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Re: NFC: pupfish

robert a rice wrote:
> by Tom Baugh and James E. Deacon
> Freshwater and Marine Aquarium:June 1983
> There is a hole in the middle of the southern Nevada desert. This hole,
> once called the Miner's Bathtub, has been known for many years now as
> Devil's Hole. snip...

Thanks for the reprint, Robert. Note the date. It is a bit *out* of
date, now.

The final salvage in the area came not just through government force,
but via the Nature Conservancy money, and a bunch of volunteers helping
the dedicated local Rangers with the habitat maintenance and fish counts

The ranchers were bought out by attractive deals to either purchase
their land or swap it for more desirable urban plots by NC. The F&WL
folks built fences and excluded the horses, burros, etc. that degraded
pupfish habitat throughout the Ash Meadows area. Members of NANFA, BAKA,
NCKC, TFX, and others have formed the Desert Springs Action Committee.
They go at least once a year to Ash to do population counts, clear
brush, and trap and kill exotics.


If you haven't been there in the last 5 or 6 years, you won't believe
the improvements.

The *diabolis* in the refuges have grown much larger than the ones still
in the hole. Such changes are much more rapid than the professionals
were expecting.

I grew up in that area of the desert, and, during my childhood in the
30s, saw things the ichthyologists simply don't allow for. There were
still native Americans in the area that did not mix with or settle with
the "invaders." They routinely carried water from spring to spring,
tossing the stale water from spring "A" into spring "B" when it was time
to freshen their supply. I seriously doubt the 20,000 year separation
stories, personally.

Pupfish are often virtual clones, due to inbreeding in such small
springs. Nevertheless, they adapt quickly to new surroundings and the
changes are obvious to the close observer.  Jackrabbit Spring was pumped
dry during the war mentioned in the story. Big Spring *mionectes* were
used to repopulate it in 1978. The *Cyprinodon nevadensis mionectes* of
one spring is clearly different from those in the other, after only 21
years of separation.

I am receiving reports that the rate of change of some African Annuals
is enormous. Fish collected a few years apart are virtually new species.

The *mionectes* are now quite secure, and should do OK from now on. The
next layer up, between them and the *diabolis* elevation is the fringe
of the Ash Meadow area containing springs with *Cypr. nevadensis
pectoralis*. They are not quite as secure, yet, but that situation
improves all the time.

IMHO, they should get more attention, for the *diabolis* and *mionectes*
are pretty solidly protected now. The days when a single tossed bottle
of Chlorox could wipe out a species are gone. Water sources are secure,
for now. Livestock damage is a thing of the past.

I haven't mentioned the most neglected of all -- the Ash Meadow Speckled
Dace. Their habitat is always in horrible shape. Maybe in the fall we
can work on that a little.

Tomorrow, I leave for a work trip to Moapa/Virgin River (NE of Vegas).
Sorry you guys don't all get to drive 1600 miles to have such fun in the
desert! :-) See the above web page for some neat descriptions of it, and
other work trips.


Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntleyone at home dot

                      Stop passing new laws!
       Repeal some dysfunctional ones. It will do far more good.* 
*The 9000+ pages in the IRS code is a neat place to start trimming.