Biodiversity value of remnant pools in an intermittent stream during the great California drought

Michael T. Bogan, Robert A. Leidy, Linnea Neuhaus, Christopher J. Hernandez, Stephanie M. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In many intermittent streams, remnant pools persist after flow ceases and provide refuge for aquatic organisms able to tolerate stagnant water conditions. The conservation value of these pools may be greatly under-appreciated, especially in regions with a Mediterranean climate, where perennial streams have been substantially modified or disturbed by human activities. Fish, amphibians, aquatic reptiles, and aquatic invertebrates were sampled from 15 remnant pools and three seeps at Coyote Creek, California, USA, in the late summer of 2014, during the height of the most intense drought that California has experienced in 500 years. Patterns of vertebrate and invertebrate species richness and community composition were compared with abiotic factors (e.g. water quality and habitat size). Thirteen vertebrate species and 172 invertebrate taxa were identified from remnant pools and seeps. Overall vertebrate richness and composition were not correlated with abiotic factors, but fish species richness increased with remnant pool size and depth. Invertebrate taxon richness increased with pool size. Invertebrate community composition differed by habitat type (pool versus seep) and gradients in composition were correlated with several abiotic factors (e.g. pool size, substrate, and canopy cover). Remnant pools at Coyote Creek supported a full assemblage of native fishes and numerous imperilled taxa, including California red-legged frogs and California floater mussels. Nearly all native fishes and imperilled taxa are absent from artificially perennial and urbanized reaches of Coyote Creek just a few kilometres downstream of the study area. Remnant pools in intermittent streams should be a focus of conservation efforts in regions with a Mediterranean climate, especially during extreme droughts. Native fauna adapted to harsh intermittent flow regimes can thrive in these habitats, whereas non-native taxa may fare poorly. Furthermore, remnant pools supported by deep groundwater sources, such as those along geological faults, may provide both ecological refuge and evolutionary refugia for freshwater biota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)976-989
Number of pages14
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • amphibians
  • aquatic invertebrates
  • drought
  • drying
  • fishes
  • refuge
  • refugia
  • reptiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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