Date of Award

Fall 2023


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Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Biology




Vernal pools are ephemeral wetlands that retain water annually from winter and spring precipitation and snowmelt but are dry the rest of the year. Though important habitats and sources of freshwater biodiversity, they are little accounted for in wetland conservation and restoration practices. Like much of the world’s wetlands, they have seen a significant decline from anthropogenic impacts and conversion for alternative land use. Pools are also at significant risk due to the impacts of climate change and invasive species. These small temporary water bodies perform vital ecosystem services and are host to rare and endemic species. Anostraca, or fairy shrimp, lay eggs that form dormant drought- and desiccation-tolerant egg banks in the substrate of dry pools and hatch with rehydration. The shrimps act as key indicators of pool quality, but little is known about these organisms, and the pools in which they reside need further study. Many species are classed only by locality or have been found only once or twice ever, and new species are still being discovered. Though some pools have received adequate studies with increased restoration efforts in recent years, the pools in eastern Washington lack information on their conditions and inhabitants. This study examines the current water quality conditions and shrimp species of several pools in this region. By monitoring pools throughout their complete hydroperiods, examining their egg banks, and attempting to rear the shrimps under experimental lab conditions examining the effects of environmental conditions on hatching, this study will establish how the pools fare currently and make recommendations for mitigating further degradation. Long- and short-term comparisons of changes in pool conditions relative to environmental conditions and shrimp representation inform mitigation and restoration practices. (67346 kB)
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