The Bonneville Basin encompasses an area that was covered by ancient Lake Bonneville and which today lies within the Great Basin province. The Bonneville Basin is distinguished geologically by its characteristic parallel north-south mountain ranges that are separated by broad, alluviated desert basins and valleys. Benches and other shoreline features of ancient Lake Bonneville prominently mark the steep, gravelly slopes of these ranges. Numerous artesian desert springs are present at the base of the mountains and in the valley floors that form various sizes of both isolated wetlands and wetland complexes. Many these wetlands are some of the most unique and currently some of the most threatened wetlands in the United States. Several aquatic species and communities have maintained an existence as relict populations and communities in these wetlands since the receding of Lake Bonneville over 10,000 years ago. For example, Hershler has described 58 previously undescribed species of hydrobiid snails, 22 of which are endemic to single locations. Like hydrobiid snails, numerous other species, such as the least chub, Iotichthys phlegethontis and the Columbia spotted frog, Rana luteioventris, depend on these wetlands for their continued existence, many of which are already imperiled. The continued decline and loss of these wetlands would further push many of these species toward endangerment and/or extinction. Several factors have already eliminated or altered many of these habitats including capping and filling,water depletions, agricultural practices, livestock grazing, and introduction of nonnative species. In recent years, the significant loss and degradation of wetlands resulting in sensitive species designations have provided impetus for resource agencies to develop and implement management plans to conserve and protect these vital ecosystems. One problem facing appropriate management is the lack of biological information for determining which wetlands should receive protection priorities based on the presence of viable, functioning characteristics. The purpose of this dissertation project was to obtain biological information needed to support defensible decisions concerning conservation, protection, acquisition, restoration, and mitigation of the artesian springs in the Bonneville Basin. The primary objectives of this project were to 1) Develop bioassessment procedures for artesian wetlands of the Bonneville Basin using macroinvertebrates and 2) Determine patterns of community composition and diversity for macroinvertebrates and metaphyton algae at multiple scales in Bonneville Basin artesian wetlands.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Biology



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Bonneville Basin, bioassessment, macroinvertebrates, metaphyton algae, community composition, community diversity, desert wetlands, artesian springs, multiscale analysis



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Biology Commons