A fish out of water: Rewilding the Pahrump poolfish in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Aaron Ambos
Publié: 22 avril 2022
Dernière modification: 22 avril 2022
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The Springs Preserve (Preserve) is a 73-ha urban park in Las Vegas, Nevada. Before 1962, three springs flowed into riparian meadows at what is now the Preserve. These springs were once inhabited by the Las Vegas dace (Rhinichthys deaconi), an extinct fish species described from museum specimens in 1984. As part of a 20-year restoration effort, ponds were constructed in the dry Las Vegas Creek bed to rewild the federally endangered Pahrump poolfish (Empetrichthys latos), a species considered critically endangered by the IUCN. This endemic fish was extirpated in 1975 from Manse Spring in Pahrump Valley, Nye County, Nevada. Although Manse Spring was lost to groundwater pumping for agriculture, some fish were translocated proactively to establish refugia populations. Recently, two of these refugia were decimated by the illegal introduction of non-native species. The establishment of a population at the Preserve further protects the species from stochastic events that can lead to extinction.   


Amérique du Nord
Scale of implementation
Désert chaud
Piscine, lac, étang
Rivière, ruisseau
Zone humide urbain
Écosystème urbain
Écosystèmes d'eau douce
Écosystèmes de désert
Fragmentation et la dégradtion de l'habitat
Gestion des espèces
Gestion et Planification des Aires protégées et conservées
Science et recherche
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Conservation génétique
Surveillance des espèces et recherche
Gestion intensive des espèces (in situ ou ex situ)
Translocations pour la conservation des espèces
Planification de la conservation des espèces
Chaleurs extrêmes
Dégradation des terres et des forêts
Perte de biodiversité
Utilisations conflictuelles / impacts cumulatifs
Perte de l'écosystème
Espèces envahissantes
Développement d’infrastructure
Manque d'infrastructures
Sustainable development goals
ODD 14 - Vie aquatique
Aichi targets
Objectif 1: Sensibilisation accrue de la biodiversité
Objectif 11: Aires protégées et conservées
Objectif 12: Réduction du risque d'extinction
Objectif 19: Partage de l'information et de la connaissance
(I)NDC Submission


Springs Preserve, 333 S Valley View Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89107, United States


The Pahrump poolfish was endemic to a single spring system in the Mojave Desert. This spring went dry decades ago because of agricultural pumping, but not before the late University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor Dr. Jim Deacon rescued and translocated a bucket of Pahrump poolfish. Our solution addresses the limited number of refugia populations in
existence by establishing an additional refugium population in a preserve with a focus on education and conservation.  In addition, as a ground-breaking rewilding project, the ecological niche once occupied by the extinct Las Vegas dace is filled by a federally endangered fish in need of additional habitat.


Our focus on education brings awareness about the plight of desert fishes that inhabit isolated spring systems and the devastating impact of non-native species such as mosquitofish,
bullfrogs, and crayfish.



The beneficiaries of our solution include the federally endangered Pahrump poolfish and guests of the Springs Preserve, either in person or through various media and/or social media outlets, that can learn about the conservation of desert fish.

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

Each block builds upon the previous one. First, regulatory issues were adressed, then the habitat was created. Once the habitat was established, the endangered Pahrump poolfish were introduced into the ponds. The last step is annual monitoring of population status and continued management of the pond system.


Despite the loss of the endemic Las Vegas dace, the Springs Preserve was rewilded with the critically endangered Pahrump poolfish. A self-sustaining population was established in the Preserve refugium ponds in 2018. Fish are once again part of the ecosystem after an absence of approximately 60 years. The rewilding of the Preserve generated a surprising amount of positive local media coverage. This media coverage was leveraged to educate the public about the plight of endangered species and the damage caused by the illegal introduction of non-native species to native fauna.

Contribué par

Portrait de raymond.saumure_41699

Raymond Saumure Las Vegas Valley Water District / Southern Nevada Water Authority / Springs Preserve

Other contributors

Southern Nevada Water Authority
Springs Preserve
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Nevada Department of Wildlife
Nevada Department of Wildlife
Southern Nevada Water Authority