Nevada’s Great Basin National Park Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary Announcing Its Newest Found Species, The White Pond Amphipod

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The National Park Service attributes ‘Sky Island’ geography to endemic animal and plant species living only in Great Basin National Park set within Nevada's [Pony Express] http://www.ponyexpressnevada.com Territory. The White Pond Amphipod was found during Great Basin National Park's 25th Year in Existence.

Lehman Caves

“There’s a sense of beauty and peace offered by uncrowded mountain trails, dark night skies and cold mountain streams in the high desert,” Andy Ferguson, Park Superintendent

Even after its establishment in 1986, Great Basin National Park continues to be the home of the country's most interesting animals and plant specieis. According to the National Park Service (NPS) http://www.nps.gov/grba/naturescience/endemic-animals.htm the "sky island" geography of the Great Basin region is responsible for trapping species because the mountain ranges act like an island. The most recent species found is a small freshwater shrimp, the White Pine amphipod. The expansive area of Great Basin National Park is located in Nevada's Pony Express Territory where exploration and discovery never-ends.

“Mountain ranges in the Great Basin National Park are separated from other mountains by "seas" of desert, across which plant and animal migration is difficult due to the dramatic differences in environment between the high elevations and the basins below,” observes NPS. Species then must adapt and change within the very specific parameters of that one location.

In Nevada's Pony Express Territory along America's Loneliest Road, mountain ranges reach 13,000 feet drop and then down to dramatic wide-open space landscapes miles long.

New specie discoveries have been occurring in the park caves and include small creatures called amphipods and springtails which have not been found anywhere else. In addition, millipedes, antipodes, pseudo scorpions, crickets and spiders live in the caves. The area fosters distinct new species that live only here and nowhere else on the planet.

Open to the public for touring are the Lehman Caves, one of the most richly decorated limestone caves in the United States. Underground streams carved the caves over millions of years and the water dissolved the natural limestone rock and the liquefied calcium carbonate slowly precipitated into forms such as stalactites, stalagmites, helectites, shields, and many other unusual shapes. According to guide Maci Macpherson, “the cave formations grow one inch every one hundred years one drip of water at a time.”

In celebration of the Park's 25th Anniversary, visitors will want to explore various featured Park attributes such as Great Basin National Park underground caves, ancient Bristlecone Pine forests, a glacier and numerous species found only in this park. And, a variety of wild animals are seen in the Park including Mt. Lions, Bald and Golden Eagles, Elk, Big Horn Sheep, Deer, Antelope, Pigmy, Cottontail and Jack rabbits, and Bear.

The Western National Parks Association Bookstore at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center is offering a 15 percent discount on all products including cards, maps, books and games.

On behalf of Great Basin National Park, Superintendent Andy Ferguson states, "We are much appreciative for all of the support and goodwill that has been shown over the past 25 years."

Many endemic species found in or near the Great Basin Park (source nps.gov), the most recent being the White Pine amphipod (Stygobromus albapinus), named in Subterranean Biology, the small freshwater shrimp was found in Model Cave in 2011. The shrimp is the eighth new species discovered at Great Basin National Park since 1999 and the sixth that is thought to exist nowhere else in the world (source Las Vegas Review Journal). Park staff discovered it far back into the cave, which required over one-quarter mile of crawling through small, muddy passages each way.

Other species include the Great Basin Cave Millipede (Idagona lehmanesis) in 2006; the Model Cave Harvestman (Cyptobunus ungulatus ungulatus - spider) in 1971; the Cave Basin Cave Pseudoscorpion (Microcreagris grandis) in the late 1930s; the Lehman Caves Millipede (undescribed) collected in 2003 and 2006 currently being described as a new species; the Snake Creek Cave springtail (Arrhophilates sp.), endemic to Great Basin National Park and the Model Cave springtail (Arrhophilates sp.), endemic to Great Basin National Park.
Additional species endemic to the Great Basin Region are the Toquerville Springsnail (Pyrgulopsis kolobensis), springtails of the genus Pyrgulopisis and the protected by Nevada state law, Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) This rabbit is native to the area and listed as at-risk of extinction or serious decline.

The Great Basin Region has eight ecosystems from the sagebrush desert zone to the treeless alpine zone (seven of the eight ecosystems are within the Park boundaries) http://www.greatbasinheritage.org/.

The park is open year-round and there is no fee for park entrance. Great Basin National Park lies within an area designated by Congress as the Great Basin National Heritage Area in recognition of its contribution in making up the unique fabric of our country.

For must-see recommendations, visit http://www.greatbasinheritage.org/great-basin-must-sees.html.

Learn more about Nevada’s Pony Express Route along America's Loneliest Road

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About the Pony Express Territory

Nevada's Pony Express Territory sits on 17 million acres of wide open space with 150 years of rich history, rugged undisturbed nature and black night skies. The Territory is where the Pony Express riders once galloped along its main trail, now Highway 50, connecting the six adventurous towns of Dayton, Fallon, Fernley, Austin, Eureka and Ely. Twenty years ago Life Magazine designated this section of Nevada State Highway 50 – “America’s Loneliest Road” as it winds itself thru the 1,840 miles of land called the Pony Express Territory. For more information, visit http://www.ponyexpressnevada.com or call 1-888-359-9449.

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