Vernal pool fairy shrimp conservation and biodiversity

For more information contact Dr. Amanda (Mandi) Finger:

Background and Significance of Study

vernal pool tadpole shrimp_Josh

Vernal pools in California support diverse assemblages of species, including waterfowl, amphibians, endemic plants, insects, and at least 67 species of crustaceans (most of which are endemic and rare. Among the crustaceans are vernal pool branchiopods, known commonly as “fairy shrimp”. There are approximately 25 species of branchiopods in California, eight of which are endemic to California. Californian Vernal pool branchiopods are extremely vulnerable to the loss and alteration of vernal pool habitat, and are at risk of further declines due to the effects of climate change.

Efforts to conserve rare and endangered vernal pool branchiopods depend on prioritizing conservation of remaining vernal pool habitats, with the goal of establishing a network of functioning vernal pool ecosystems that supports rare and endangered species and maximizes protection of biodiversity. To achieve this goal, managers need information about 1) which vernal pool habitats support rare and endangered species; 2) which are associated with increased biodiversity; and 3) which biotic and abiotic characteristics are associated with listed species and/or increased biodiversity. One way of gaining this information is to develop a method of habitat assessment that can rapidly determining the presence of rare and endangered species and associated biodiversity (such as surrogate species, or those that are common and easily identified that may indicate the presence of listed or rare species). This project will use advances in the analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA) to develop efficient survey protocols that will help to identify and protect vernal pool habitats of high conservation value.


US Fish and Wildlife Service

US Bureau of Reclamation


More Information:


Deiner, K, J.M. Hull, and B. May. 2013. Eight novel microsatellite loci developed from vernal pool fairy shrimp. J. Fish & Wild. Man. 4:134-138. (pdf)