Death Valley 2009 #7
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Death Vally 2009 Trip Page #7
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Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge: Desert Pupfish

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge east of Death Valley.

Screw-bean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens).

The rare desert pupfish of eastern California and Nevada.

A male Ash Meadows pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis ssp. mionectes) compared with an ordinary U.S. Penny. The length of this pupfish is about 35 mm (the penny is 19 mm in diameter).

A male Ash Meadows pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis ssp. mionectes). The submersed colonies of freshwater green algae are stoneworts of the genus Chara (division Charophyta). The numerous orange dots on the algae are sperm-bearing sex organs called antheridia (see following two images).

Division Charophyta (Stoneworts)

Submersed colonies of the freshwater alga Chara. This division is called "stoneworts" because the branched thallus is often encrusted with lime (calcium and magnesium carbonates). Because of their calcareous encrustation, members of the division Charophyta are often preserved in the fossil record. Paleotologists can readily recognize exinct relatives of Chara from strata as early as the Devonian Period, over 300 million years ago.

Close-up view of the fruiting branches of Chara showing the easily recognizable sex organs. Although microscopic, the sex organs can be readily identified by their shape and color. The sperm-bearing antheridia are bright orange, while the egg-bearing oogonium is green with a distinctive crown of cells. This is an excellent alga for studying life cycles in general biology and botany classes.

Mountains Near Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge

View of Amargosa Range west of Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge.

Shadscale scrub dominated by the saltbush called shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia).

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