San Diego Fairy Shrimp
Vernal Pool and Fairy Shrimp at Carmel Mountain
The San Diego fairy shrimp, Branchinecta sandiegoensis is found only in ephemeral vernal pools in San Diego County and Northwest Baja California. The embryos lie buried beneath the dried pools in desiccation resistant eggs. In dry years the vernal pools don't remain full long enough for the fairy shrimp to reach sexual maturity, a challenge that could become more severe in a changing climate.
The night before the decision was to be made as to whether to list the fairy shrimp as endangered, activists camped out at the vernal pools. Listing the fairy shrimp was important to assure that the vernal pool habitat and the associated coastal maritime chaparral would be preserved.
San Diego County has more threatened and endangered species than any other county in the continental US. Listing a species is one of the most effective tools to not only help prevent a given species from going extinct but to protect the habitat in which it lives. As the climate changes, not only will more species be threatened with extinction, but the preservation or restoration of additional habitat will be necessary as the needs of individual species change.