El Morro National Monument - Tinajas


NPS Photo Dale Dombrowski

Tadpoles in a tinaja

NPS photo Dale Dombrowski


Tinajas are small rain-filled pools that develop in bedrock depressions created by wind and water erosion. They are completely surrounded by the bedrock, vary in size, and are temporary in nature, existing only after snow melt or summer monsoonal rains. These pools attract a variety of living things, from toads and frogs to a dizzying array of busy insect larvae and invertebrates. Many of the crustaceans that live in tinajas (such as fairy shrimp, triops, and copepods) are known as "drought tolerators" and their eggs are able to lose more than 90 percent of their internal water as they lie dormant in the dusty pool bottoms between rains. When water fills the depression their life cycle begins. Most tinaja dwellers have very short life cycles - some as short as 10 days.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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