High-Elevation Aquatic Resources
What Are High-Elevation Aquatic Resources?
High-elevation aquatic resources in Yosemite National Park include the lakes, ponds, wet meadows, and streams located in the high country above Yosemite Valley and the diverse and vibrant plant and animal communities--including amphibians--that they support.
The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog was once the most abundant amphibian found in these high-elevation aquatic systems. Visitors would often see hundreds of frogs during walks along mountain lake shores and thousands of tadpoles could also be seen piled on top of each other. These frogs have now declined by over 95 percent. Frogs were a vital link in the food chain—they were predators feeding primarily on insects and they were important prey for native birds, snakes, and mammals when still numerous.
The emergence of insects from the aquatic environment is another vital link in the food chain providing an irreplaceable food source for birds and bats and their young.
Visitors to the High Sierra were once greeted by the jubilant spring trills of Yosemite toads raised among the dense plants of high-elevation wet meadows. Today, the toad’s populations have declined more than 50 percent, and the spring chorus is much quieter.
Why Is a Plan Needed Now?
What Action Is Yosemite Taking to Manage Aquatic Resources?
Yosemite National Park actively manages aquatic ecosystems. This includes ongoing water quality monitoring, restoration, and research. Current high-elevation aquatic restoration projects and research include: experimental removal of non-native fish from six sites (5 percent of lakes/ponds with fish in the park); reintroduction of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs into fishless lakes to study re-establishment success and to determine what allows some populations of frogs to persist with the amphibian chytrid fungus; and an intensive study of all lakes and ponds in Yosemite to develop a better understanding of the vertebrate and invertebrate species found in these environments and to better inform management decisions regarding these resources.
What Would the Aquatic Resources Management Plan Address?
Learn More about Habitat for Amphibians in Yosemite
Did You Know?
Riparian communities are adjacent to the river channel and tributaries; they are the interface between the river and surrounding meadow and upland communities. They provide specialized habitat and important nutrients to the meadow and river systems.