National Park Service

Mojave Desert I&M Network (MOJN)

Springs Inventories

Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs at Death Valley National Park

Aquatic and associated riparian resources represent a very small portion of total land cover in the MOJN (excluding LAKE), however they are disproportionately important from ecological perspective (e.g. biodiversity, biological productivity, etc.). Infrequent precipitation and long periods of drought are defining characteristics of the MOJN.

Surface water resources in network parks include both lotic (flowing) and lentic (non-flowing) environments. Major lotic environments include the Colorado, Virgin, and Muddy Rivers. Other lotic environments include perennial streams and springs, and seasonal and ephemeral springs, streams, and seeps. Lentic (non-flowing water) environments in the MOJN include lakes and ponds, playas, and oases/springs as well as floodplains. Surface waters in parks are important for a variety of reasons including ecological significance, importance as a supply of drinking water, and association with important cultural sites.

Thousands of springs are scattered throughout alpine, mesic, and xeric climates of the western U.S. These wetland habitats have been a focus of human activity for thousands of years because they often provide the only reliable source of water over large areas. Springs also provide important points of access for characterizing groundwater flow systems, particularly in the arid southwestern U.S. Biologists have focused on springs because they represent 'biodiversity hotspots' that support a large proportion of the aquatic species in arid regions. Several hundred species or subspecies of fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and plant species are endemic to western U.S. springs. Cultural use of springs for livestock and local and municipal water supplies has altered habitat quality causing this highly restricted biota to experience the highest rate of extinction known in the western U.S.

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster