Oases: Finding hidden biodiversity gems in the southern Sonoran Desert

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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

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Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Oases: Finding hidden biodiversity gems in the southern Sonoran Desert
Chapter 18
DOI 10.7208/chicago/9780226694504.001.0001
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 13 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Standing between life and extinction: Ethics and ecology of conserving aquatic species in North American deserts
First page 272
Last page 284
Country Mexico
State Sonora
Other Geospatial Southern Sonoran Desert
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