USGS Western Ecological Research Center
The Riverside fairy shrimp Streptocephalus woottoni is a federally endangered freshwater crustacean endemic to southern California, USA and Baja California, MX. The species inhabits deep ephemeral or vernal pools, and produces encysted embryos that can survive in dry soil (potentially for many years). S. woottoni has a very limited range, as it is only known to occupy about 60 pool complexes in Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties.
We are conducting a comprehensive genetic survey of this species. Understanding patterns of population genetic structure may aid in defining units for conservation, and implementing effective relocation and restoration actions. For example, soil from extirpated pools is often stored for future mitigation actions such as translocation, or re-establishment. However, if populations are genetically unique and locally adapted, it may be inadvisable to found new populations with salvaged cysts from distant locations.
The primary objective of our project is quantify genetic diversity within and among populations of S. woottoni. Patterns of genetic diversity can be interpreted in terms of intraspecific processes such as range expansions, bottlenecks, and historic isolation. We are also determining whether DNA degrades in cysts as soil samples are stored over various lengths of time (approx. 1 to 20 years). This study represents the first range-wide collection effort and population genetic analysis of the Riverside fairy shrimp.
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