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Salton Sea Animal Biogeography

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1 Salton Sea Animal Biogeography
Ginger Burns


3 History Accidentally created in 1905, the Salton Sea is now a stopover for millions of birds. Lower water levels, and rising salinity and toxicity, threaten all life in the lake. The Salton Sea was created in 1905 when spring flooding breached an intake canal in Arizona, releasing water from the Colorado River into the Salton Sink. The resulting lake covered 500 square miles. People stocked the lake with fish and pile worms and, once the water supply from the Colorado was cut off again, water levels were maintained by runoff. With no outflow, the Salton Sea has become progressively saltier and levels of toxic chemicals and pesticides have risen. Now, California is drawing water from the lake to supply water thirsty communities, especially San Diego. The Salton Sea is shrinking.

4 History In spite of the lake’s problems, pile worms continue to do well, feeding off decaying organic material and algae. They, and the remaining fish, draw more than 400 species of birds every year. In 2005, National Geographic called it “one of the most important migratory bird habitats in the US, if not the world” (Bourne, Joel K. Salton Sea. February 2005). But the Salton Sea is dying. Shrinking water levels, high salinity, and high levels of toxins threaten the whole ecosystem. California is working toward a restoration plan, but will it be too little, too late?

5 The Reality of The Salton Sea

Benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrate animals form a major part of the diets of fish and many types of birds at the Salton Sea, and can be extremely numerous within different habitats. In fact, on submerged rocks, several thousand invertebrates can be collected from an area the size of a slice of bread!

7 Benthic invertebrate animals within three major habitats of the Salton Sea
The offshore environment is sampled by boat using a Ponar grab.

8 The rocky shore-line is an important habitat for many benthic animals.
Barnacle shell beaches also harbor a great abundance of animals

9 Animals of the offshore sediments.
The pileworm Neanthes succinea, the most abundant animal in the Sea, and food for fish and birds. Streblospio benedicti. (small marine worm) S. benedicti (life size), 1/10 the size of the pileworm.

10 The amphipod Gammarus mucronatus
The amphipod is very abundant in rocky areas: 3,183 were found within a 10 x 10 cm area in July! Unlike its relatives the common "beach hoppers" or sand fleas, Gammarus spends its entire life underwater. It is also an important food for fish and shorebirds foraging at the Sea

11 Balanus amphitrite Barnacle shells provide an important habitat for amphipods and Neanthes.

12 Corophium louisianum The amphipod Corophium louisianum lives in mud tubes attached to hard substrata, in empty barnacle shells, and in the silty mud

13 The pileworm Neanthes Most spawning occurred in March, when one 10-minute tow collected 286 worms! These would have provided a tasty meal for fish foraging that night.

14 Over 380 Species of Birds

Red-throated Loon ,Pacific Loon ,Common Loon Pied-billed Grebe, HornedGrebe, EareGrebe, Western Grebe, Clark’s Grebe Laysan Albatross

16 Fulmars, Petrels and Shearwaters
Cook’s Petrel Buller’s Shearwater Sooty Shearwater

17 Storm-Petrels, Boobies, and Gannets
Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Black Storm-Petrel Least Storm-Petrel Blue-footed Booby, Brown Booby

18 Pelicans and Cormorants
American White Pelican Brown Pelican Double-crested Cormorant Olivaceous Cormorant

19 Frigatebirds Magnificent Frigatebird

20 Bitterns, Herons, and Egrets
American Bittern, Least Bittern Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron Great Egret, Snowy Egret Tricolored Heron Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Heron Black-crowned Night-Heron

21 Ibises, Spoonbills and Storks
White Ibis, White-faced Ibis Roseate Spoonbill Wood Stork

22 Flamingos Lesser Flamingo Chilean Flamingo

23 Waterfowl Fulvous Whistling Duck Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Tundra Swan Greater White-fronted Goose Snow Goose Ross’ Goose Brant Canada Goose Wood Duck

24 Waterfowl Green-winged Teal Baikal Teal American Black Duck Mallard
Northern Pintail Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal Northern Shoveler Gadwall

25 Waterfowl Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon Canvasback Redhead
Ring-necked Duck Tufted Duck Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup Oldsquaw

26 Waterfowl Black Scoter, Surf Scoter White-winged Scoter
Common Goldeneye, Barrow’s Goldeneye Bufflehead Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser Red-breasted Merganser Ruddy Duck

27 Vultures Turkey Vulture

28 Osprey, Kites, Eagles and Hawks
White-tailed Kite Bald Eagle Northern Harrier Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk Harris’ Hawk Red-shouldered Hawk Broad-winged Hawk

29 Osprey, Kites, Eagles and Hawks
Zone-tailed Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk Golden Eagle Northern Goshawk

30 Falcons American Kestrel Merlin Peregrine Falcon Prairie Falcon

31 Gallinaceous Birds and Rails
Ring-necked Pheasant Gambel’s Quail Black Rail, Clapper Rail Virginia Rail Sora Common Moorhen American Coot

32 Cranes Sandhill Crane

33 Plovers Black-bellied Plover American Golden Plover Snowy Plover
Wilson’s Plover Semipalmated Plover Killdeer Mountain Plover

34 Oystercatchers American Oystercatcher

35 Stilts and Avocets Black-necked Stilt American Avocet

36 Shorebirds Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs Spotted Redshank
Solitary Sandpiper Willet Wandering Tattler Spotted Sandpiper Whimbrel Long-billed Curlew Hudsonian Godwit

37 Shorebirds Marbled Godwit Ruddy Turnstone, BlackTurnstone
Surfbird, Red Knot, Sanderling Semipalmated Sandpiper Western Sandpiper Little Stint, Least Sandpiper White-rumped Sandpiper Baird’s Sandpiper Pectoral Sandpiper

38 Shorebirds Dunlin Curlew Sandpiper Stilt Sandpiper Ruff
Short-billed Dowitcher Long-billed Dowitcher

39 Snipe and Phalaropes Common Snipe Wilson’s Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope Red Phalarope

40 Jaegers Pomarine Jaeger Parasitic Jaeger Long-tailed Jaeger

41 Gulls and Terns Laughing, Franklin’s, Little, Bonaparte’s, Heermann’s, Mew, Ring-billed, California, Herring, Thayer’s, Lesser Black-backed, Yellow-footed, Western, Glaucous-winged, Glaucous, and Sabine’s Gull Black-legged Kittiwake Gull-billed, Caspian, Elegant, Common, Arctic, Foster’s, Least, and Black Tern

42 Skimmers and Seabirds Black Skimmer Ancient Murrelet

43 Doves Rock Dove, Spotted Dove, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, and Common Ground-Dove Band-tailed Pigeon

44 Cuckoos Yellow-billed Cuckoo Greater Roadrunner Groove-billed Ani

45 Owls Barn, Flammulated, Western Screech, Great Horned, Burrowing, Long-eared, Short-eared, and Northern Saw-whet Owl

46 Goatsuckers and Swifts
Lesser Nighthawk Common Poorwill Whip-poor-will Black Swift Vaux’s Swift White-throated Swift

47 Hummingbirds Black-chinned Hummingbird Anna’s Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird Calliope Hummingbird Rufous Humminhbird Allen’s Hummingbird

48 Kingfishers Belted Kingfisher

49 Woodpeckers Lewis’, Red-headed, Acorn, Gila, Yellow-bellied, Red-naped, Red-breasted, Ladder-backed,and Nuttall’s Woodpecker Northern Flicker

50 Flycatchers Olive-sided Flycatcher, Greater Pewee, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, Western Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Eastern Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Cassin’s Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Scissor-tailed flycatcher

51 Larks and Swallows Horned Lark Purple Martin, Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow Northern Rough-winged Swallow Bank Swallow Cliff Swallow Barn Swallow

52 Jays, Magpies, and Crows Scrub Jay American Crow Common Raven

53 Chickadees, Titmice and Verdins
Mountain Chickadee Verdins

54 Nuthatches, Creepers and Wrens
Red-breasted Nuthatch White-breasted Nuthatch Brown Creeper Cactus, Rock, Canyon, Bewick’s, House, Winter, and Marsh Wren

55 Kinglets, Bluebirds, and Thrushes
Golden-crowned, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet Blue-gray, and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Western, and Mountain Bluebird Townsend’s Solitaire Swainson’s Thrush Hermit Thrush American Robin, Varied Thrush

56 Mockingbirds and Thrashers
Northern Mockingbird Sage, Brown, Bendire’s, Curve-billed, Crissal, and Le Conte’s Thrashers

57 Wagtails, Pipits, Waxwings, and Phainopepla
American Pipit Sprague’s Pipit Cedar Waxwing Phainopepla

58 Shrikes, Starlings and Mynas
Northern Shrike Loggerhead Shrike European Starling

59 Vireos Bell’s Vireo Solitary Vireo Hutton’s Vireo Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo

60 Warblers Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Virginia’s, Lucy’s, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, Hermit, Prairie, Palm, Bay-breasted, Cerulean, Black-and- white, MacGillivray’s, and Wilson’s Warbler Northern Parula

61 Warblers American Redstart Ovenbird
Common Yellowthroat, Painted Redstart Yellow-breasted Chat

62 Tanagers, Grosebeaks, and Buntings
Summer and Western Tanager Pyrrhuloxia Rose-breasted Grosbeak Black-headed Grosbeak Blue Grosbeak Blue Bunting Lazuli Bunting Indigo Bunting Dickcissel

63 Towhees and Sparrows Green-tailed, Rufous-sided, and Abert’s Towhee
American Tree, Chipping, Brewer’s, Black-chinned, Vesper, Lark, Black-throated, Grasshopper, Fox, Song, Lincoln’s,Golden-crowned, White-crowned, Harris’, Swamp, White-throated, Sage, and Savannah Sparrow Lark Bunting

64 Towhees and Sparrows Dark-eyed Junco
McCown’s, Lapland, and Chestnut-collared Longspur

65 Blackbirds and Orioels
Bobolink Red-winged , Tricolored, Yellow-headed, and Brewer’s Blackbird Western Meadowlark Great-tailed Grackle Bronzed Cowbird Brown-headed Cowbird Orchard Oriole

66 Blackbirds and Orioels
Hooded Oriole Bullock’s Oriole Scott’s Oriole

67 Finches Purple Finch Cassin’s Finch House Finch Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin Lesser Goldfinch Lawrence’s Goldfinch American Goldfinch Evening Grosbeak

68 Weaver Finches House Sparrow

69 Birds in trouble Human activities created the Salton Sea as it currently exists, but human activities have destroyed natural habitats for migratory birds," says Pryde, who is an emeritus professor of geography at San Diego State University and chair of Audubon California's Salton Sea Task Force. "The sea is more crucial for these birds now than ever before--and more troubled."

70 Mammals of the Salton Sea
All mammals listed are considered resident species with the exception of the bats which migrate on a seasonal basis like many of the birds.

71 Shews and Cats Desert Shrew Bobcat

72 Dogs and Raccons Coyote Desert Kit Fox Gray Fox Raccoon

73 Leafnose Bats and Plainnose Bats
California Leafnose Bat Long-tongued Bat Pallid Bat California Myotis Western Pipistrel Big Brown Bat Spotted Bat Hoary Bat Western Yellow Bat

74 Freetail Bats Mexican Freetail Bat Pocketed Freetail Bat
Big Freetail Bat

75 Rabbits/Hares-Squirrels/Chipmunks
Desert Cottontail Blacktail Jackrabbit Round-tailed Ground Squirrel Antelope Ground Squirrel

76 Weasels, Skunks, Badgers
Striped Skunk Spotted Skunk Badger

77 Pocket Gophers and White Footed Mice
Valley Pocket Gopher Cactus Mouse Deer Mouse

78 Pocket/Kangaroo Mice and Kangaroo Rats
Desert Pocket Mouse Little Pocket Mouse Desert Kangaroo Rat Spiny Pocket Mouse Merriam Kangaroo Rat Long-tailed Pocket Mouse

79 Cotton Rats and Woodrat
Hispid Cotton Rat Desert Woodrat White-throated Woodrat

80 Voles and Muskrats and Old World Rats and Mice
House Mouse Black Rat Norway Rat

81 Amphibians and Reptiles of the Salton Sea

82 Amphibians Woodhouse’s Toad Red-spotted Toad Lowland Leopard Frog

83 Turtles and Lizards Spiny Softshell Turtle Side-blotched Lizard
Flat –tailed Horned

84 Lizard Leopard Lizard Long-tailed Brush Lizard Desert Horned Lizard
Desert Spiny Lizard Western Whiptail Lizard

85 Snakes Gopher Snake Common Kingsnake

86 Fish of the Salton Sea Fishes
Very few fish can tolerate the high salinity of the Salton Sea. In 1950 attempts were made to introduce several marine fish. These attempts resulted in the largest inland fishery in California.

87 Introduced Saltwater Fish Species
Orange Corvina Sargo Gulf Croaker Longjaw Mudsucker

88 Species of fish in the Salton Sea That are found in saltwater and freshwater

89 Fish found in the Salton Sea that are endangered or threatened
Desert Pupfish

90 Other Fish of the Salton Sea
Threadfin Shad Sailfin Molly Mosquitofish Red Shiner California Killifish Largemouth Bass White Catfish, Channel Catfish Carp

91 Habitats of the Salton Sea

92 Habitat o - open water - restricted to the open water of the Salton Sea and larger lakes in the Imperial Valley. b - beach and mudflat - basically the shore line of the Salton Sea, but expanded to include flooded fields and other such areas of shallow water and mud.

93 Habitats m - marshes - cattail marshes and other such areas found at various locations around the Salton Sea, along the rivers and canals, and at shallow lakes. f - farmland - agricultural land found extensively throughout the Imperial Valley south of the Salton Sea, including planted and unplanted fields alike.

94 Habitats - shrubland - mesquite thickets and other brushy areas. Some shrubland contains scattered trees. - riparian vegetation - limited to areas of salt cedar and willows along waterways, and at some points along the shore of the Salton Sea. - aerial - use limited to those strong flying species most often seen in the air.

95 Habitats h - houses and towns - immediate area of ranch houses and the residential areas of such towns as Niland and Calipatria. It is in these areas that most of the larger trees can be found and where ornamental planting supports a variety of landbirds.

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