The Center for Biological Diversity, along with co-petitioner, petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Midvalley Fairy Shrimp as endangered. This petition once again challenges the Bush Administration's illegal policy of not accepting or processing new listing petitions filed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Center is also working to protect the Riverside Fairy Shrimp, a species similar in appearance to the Midvalley Fairy Shrimp. by CA EPA

The Midvalley Fairy Shrimp is a small, soft-bodied crustacean that lives in vernal pools, seasonal wetlands that fill with water during fall and winter rains. Fairy shrimps swim upside down with graceful, rhythmic beats of their eleven pairs of delicate legs. They filter bacteria, algae, and protozoa from their aquatic habitat. They are short-lived animals that hatch and reproduce during a short interval in the winter when the vernal pools are filled with water. Fairy shrimp cysts fall to the bottom of the pool where they withstand the hot, dry summers of California's grasslands. After one or more dry seasons, the cysts will hatch when the pools are once again inundated, and the cycle of life begins again.

The Midvalley Fairy Shrimp is a newly-described species that inhabits pools in only a handful of counties within the Great Central Valley, including Sacramento, Solano, Merced, Madera, San Joaquin, Fresno, and Contra Costa counties. The Midvalley Fairy Shrimp is closely related to three other federally listed species, the Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp, Conservancy Fairy Shrimp, and Longhorn Fairy Shrimp. These three species were listed under the ESA in 1994, primarily due to the threats posed by destruction of their vernal pool habitat. The listing petition demonstrates that the Midvalley Fairy Shrimp is at an even greater risk of extinction than these species, however, because it has a more restricted range and inhabits the most shallow, ephemeral vernal pools.

Vernal pools are one of the most threatened habitat types in the world. Over 97% of California's original vernal pool habitat has already been lost due to urban sprawl, agribusiness, offroad vehicles, livestock grazing, and wetland draining. Vernal pools are home to many plants and animals that in turn form a valuable part of the food chain for a wide array of animals, including birds of prey, shorebirds, migratory waterfowl, frogs, toads, salamanders and pollinating insects. The Midvalley Fairy Shrimp is a vital part of this web of life.

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
July 3, 2003
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