Ephemeral pools, commonly called potholes, are natural sandstone basins. These pools collect rain water and sediment, forming tiny ecosystems with a collection of plants and animals adapted to life in the desert. Potholes range from a few millimeters to meters deep and even the smallest potholes may harbor microscopic invertebrates. Ephemeral means fleeting – these pools only last a short while before drying up or changing.
To survive in a pothole, organisms must endure extreme changes in habitat. Surface temperatures can be 140 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and below freezing in winter. As water evaporates, organisms must move to larger pools or survive dehydration.