Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
NEVADA FWO: Ash Meadows Naucorid Responds To Restoration
California-Nevada Offices , June 1, 2008
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Ash Meadows naucorid. (USFWS photo)
Ash Meadows naucorid. (USFWS photo) - Photo Credit: n/a

Jeannie Stafford

The Ash Meadows naucorid (Ambrysus amargosus) is a small, aquatic insect that has persisted on the edge of extinction for at least a half a century.  The naucorid occurs in small thermal springs within the Point of Rocks area of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Nevada.  It is a thermal endemic, restricted to a narrow range of environments; specifically, gravel substrates within warm flowing water.  The development of commercial agriculture during the 20th century caused significant changes to its habitat.  The establishment of the Refuge in 1983 secured essential habitat for the naucorid, allowing habitat restoration efforts to proceed.  Several restoration and reintroduction efforts had succeeded over the years; however, recent numbers of individuals in the springs have been low or declining.


Service Biologist, Shawn Goodchild and Refuge staff, focused on a small-scale restoration action (approximately 12 square meters) to improve the naucorid’s habitat where gradual change due to shading by overgrown vegetation and declines in water availability had occurred.  Their restoration efforts included: removing sections of moist-soil grasses, such as Cladium, to allow sunlight; replacing unsuitable substrate with hand picked, one-inch gravel within the streamlets; and using larger gravel to create habitat pockets in steep stream gradients, which had previously not been used by the naucorid. 


This intricate restoration effort doubled the amount of naucorid habitat.  The naucorid’s response was dramatic; their numbers essentially quadrupled.  More work, however, is needed to improve and maintain the naucorid’s habitat including the restoration and connection of additional springs.  The restoration so far is a promising success story and will move the recovery efforts for the Ash Meadows naucorid forward in the future


Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov
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