Species of the Mesquite Bosque
The phainopepla is a medium-sized bird. Males are a silky black color and females are gray. Both sexes have crests. Phainopeplas feed on both berries and flying insects. The phainopepla is closely tied to the availability of the berries of mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.) which is a parasitic plant that grows on mesquite trees (Prosopis spp.). The phainopepla eats the mistletoe berries, digests them, and defecates the remaining sticky seeds on the branches of mesquite trees. The seeds sproutand the mistletoe becomes established on new mesquite trees. Management for phainopepla includes maintaining mesquite stands that are parasitized by mistletoe.
The Vermilion flycatcher is a small flycatcher found in the southwestern United States southward to Argentina. This species inhabits desert riparian areas but primarily nests in the screwbean woodland on the WSNA. The Warm Springs Natural Area is home to the largest breeding population of Vermilion flycatchers in Nevada. Males are a bright red color and females are gray with a peach belly. Vermilion flycatchers feed mostly on flying insects, such as bees and dragonflies that they catch on the wing. They often forage over water or meadows. Management for the Vermilion flycatcher includes keeping riparian and mesquite woodlands relatively open because they avoid densely wooded areas. These birds also occur in the riparian-agricultural interface especially near lightly cultivated or abandoned fields near open water
The spotted bat is a large bat with extremely large ears and three large white spots on its back. This state-protected species is known to roost on cliffs and to forage in mesquite bosques in the Warm Springs Natural Area (O’Farrell et al. 2004 and Williams et al. 2006). The spotted bat eats a variety of insects but primarily feeds on moths. This species is rare and patchy in occurrence in a variety of habitats throughout the western United States. The spotted bat has one young per year in June or July. Little else is known about this elusive species. Management for the spotted bat includes protecting cliff roosting areas and maintaining insect and moth diversity by maintaining open mesquite bosque habitat
Species for Management Consideration
Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitans)
Vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
Spotted bat (Euderma maculatum)
Other Ecological Groups
Several plant communities exist on WSNA that do not fall within TNC’s six ecological “assemblages” (Provencher et al. 2005) but still harbor rare and or protected animal species. Additional plant communities include the creosote bush shrubland, saltbush shrubland, and alkali meadows.
Creosote bush shrubland
Characteristic of the Mojave Desert, this shrubland provides habitat for the threatened desert tortoise and at least two species of bats, the California leaf-nosed bat and the big free-tailed bat. Creosote bush shrubland occupies the upland areas of WSNA above the floodplain. It is also the dominant vegetation type that surrounds WSNA. Much of the plant diversity documented on the WSNA occurs in this community. The Creosote bush shrubland at the WSNA has not been heavily impacted by past agricultural practices. This area is in good condition with expansive distribution outside the WSNA boundary. Management action will likely be limited to controlling some of the common non-native weeds that increase the risk and spread of wildfire such as red brome (Bromus rubens) and Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii). Saltbush shrubland This vegetation community is found in more saline soils of the floodplain in the upper Muddy River. In the most saline soils where a high water table exists, iodinebush (Allenrolfea occidentalis) can be a dominant species. Other areas on the WSNA are dominated by quailbush (Atriplex lentiformis) and Mojave seablite (Suaeda moquinii). This community often forms a gradient with alkali meadows.
Saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) is the most prevalent species found within this plant community followed by alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides). Because of the past extensive cultivation at WSNA, remnant stands of alkali meadows are considered extremely important. Much of this community type has been replaced by Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon). These meadows also serve as foraging grounds for wildlife, especially where they border mesquite woodland.
Species for Management Consideration (Creosote bush shrubland)
Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
California leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus californicus)
Big free-tailed bat (Nyctinomops macrotis)