Beneath the desert is a vast system of groundwater stored in aquifers—underground layers of unconsolidated, porous, or fractured rock containing water. A natural spring occurs where water breaches the ground.
In the Mojave Desert, springs often represent the only surface water over large areas. As a result, springs are extremely important as habitat to aquatic and amphibian animal species and riparian plant species, and as water sources for terrestrial wildlife. Springs in the western United States support several hundred endemic plant and animal species, some of which are listed as endangered.
Numerous populations of springsnails, fish, insects, and other species rely on these springs for survival. The water quality and spring discharge monitoring in this protocol will allow us to detect habitat changes that could threaten endemic and endangered species in the selected large springs in our network parks.