Lentic systems include natural lakes or ponds, small man-made lakes, isolated or connected backwaters of rivers, large reservoirs, and their associated riparian habitats. Arizona has about 492 square miles covered with water, mostly in man-made reservoirs (Tellman et al. 1997). Most of the natural ponds in Arizona are not perennial, and even the two natural lakes (Mormon Lake and Stoneman Lake) can dry up during extended droughts (Hereford and Amoroso 2021). Following the settlement of the Arizona Territory and, later, the State of Arizona, the need to manage water resources for safety and human uses increased. In response to these changes, more than 400 dams were constructed around the state (USGS 2017). The larger reservoirs were created in the early to mid-20th century, beginning with construction of Roosevelt Dam in 1911 (Blanchard 1911). Damming of rivers immediately altered downstream flows and habitat in the streams/river systems in which they were built, thus affecting native aquatic wildlife (Garcia 2009). Humans also introduced non-native fish, crayfish, and mollusks to many of these reservoirs, which negatively-affected native aquatic species in these lentic systems as well as the connected lotic systems (Johnson et al. 2008).
Hundreds of smaller human-created impoundments, including stock tanks, local community/ranch ponds, and small lakes are dispersed throughout Arizona and provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife (USGS 2017). Most of these small impoundments have limited or no riparian areas, nor do they support populations of native fishes. Fish that do occur in these smaller lentic systems are typically non-native species (Olden and Poff 2005). These ponds provide locally-important sources of drinking water for many wildlife species, and maybe the only sources of standing water over significant areas.
Significant Habitat Features
The following describes habitat features or microhabitats that are unique to this habitat type and are of particular importance to certain species:
Ponds and tanks smaller than two surface acres and shallower than 10 feet are often temporary and may only provide water for less than a year at a time. However, the temporal availability of these ponded habitats is very important for the reproduction and recruitment of amphibian and invertebrate species. Thanks to the ephemeral nature of these lentic systems, they preclude the occupation of non-native fishes that may prey upon or compete with native species. Many species of game and nongame wildlife will also use these temporary water sources as a drinking water source.
Moderate-sized ponds may persist for one or more years, except during the longest drought periods. These lentic systems provide more reliable drinking water sources for game and nongame wildlife. However, these ponds may require active management to maintain a desirable aquatic species assemblage and native habitat that reflects AZGFD’s management goals for the area, whether they be a sportfishing opportunity or for native species conservation.
Larger reservoirs have converted many miles of flowing river to standing water habitats that can be used by a variety of waterfowl and piscivorous birds such as bald eagle and osprey. These larger lentic systems also provide suitable habitat for the fish species that support the majority of recreational sport fishing opportunities in the state.
The following list represents SGCN in this habitat type that AZGFD actively manages or are watching closely due to some level of concern:
Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Lowland Leopard Frog, Northern Leopard Frog, Sonoran Tiger Salamander
American Bittern, Bald Eagle, California Black Rail, Clark's Grebe, Common Gallinule, Western Least Bittern, American Peregrine Falcon, Sora, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Virginia Rail, Western Grebe, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ridgway's Rail
Apache Trout, Bonytail Chub, Desert Pupfish, Gila Chub, Gila Topminnow, Gila Trout, Sonoyta Pupfish, Razorback Sucker, Roundtail Chub, Yaqui Catfish, Yaqui Chub, Yaqui Topminnow
Allen's Lappet-browed Bat, Greater Western Mastiff Bat, Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Pocketed Free-tailed Bat, Spotted Bat, Western Red Bat
Mexican Gartersnake, Sonora Mud Turtle, Sonoyta Mud Turtle
Sensitive Plant Species
The following list represents plant species that are known to occur in this habitat type:
Additional Influential Species
The following are other wildlife species, native and non-native, that can have particular influence in this habitat type. Influential species can affect SGCN and their habitats directly and indirectly, for example altering predator/prey interactions, overgrazing, outcompeting natives, creating microhabitats, and others.
American Bullfrog, Arizona Tiger Salamander, Western Chorus Frog
American Coot, Common Yellowthroat, Merriam's Turkey, Osprey, Song Sparrow
Black Bullhead, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Channel Catfish, Common Carp, Cutthroat Trout, Flathead Catfish, Green Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Striped Bass, Western Mosquitofish, Yellow Bullhead
Applesnail, Asiatic Clam, New Zealand Mudsnail, Virile or Northern Crayfish, Quagga Mussel, Red Swamp Crawfish
American Beaver, American Pronghorn, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Mexican Gray Wolf, Mule Deer, Southeastern River Otter, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Rocky Mountain Elk, Whitetail Deer, Yuma Myotis
The following describes the primary threats facing this habitat type, adapted from Salafsky et al. (2008). First-level threats (i.e. Agriculture, Climate Change) represent broad categories while second-level threats reflect more specific stressors to the system. For detailed information on threats to this habitat type and conservation actions being taken, see Chapter 8: Threats and Conservation Actions.
3. Climate Change and Severe Weather
5. Disease, Pathogens, and Parasites
7. Human Intrusions and Disturbance
8. Invasive and Other Problematic Species
9. Natural System Modifications
The following describes specific conservation actions that can be taken to reduce or eliminate threats to this habitat type, adapted from Salafsky et al. (2008). Level 1 conservation actions (i.e. Land and Water Protection) represent broad categories of potential actions, while the Level 2 conservation actions (i.e. Resource and habitat protection) are more specific.
1. Land and Water Protection
- Acquire land and water rights and pursue conservation agreements and easements in and around COAs and other priority areas. (Threats 1.3, 3.1)
2. Land and Water Management
- Remove non-native, undesirable, and/or invasive wildlife and plant species. Monitor the effectiveness and maintenance for the success of removal efforts. (Threat 8.1)
- Improve, restore, or maintain high-quality aquatic habitat to support SCGN aquatic species. Develop and maintain refuge habitats. (Threats 1.3, 3.1)
- Improve, restore, or maintain high-quality riparian habitat to support pollinator species. (Threats 1.1, 1.3, 3.1, 8.1, 9.1)
3. Species Management
- Develop and implement projects for repatriation of aquatic wildlife species populations that are currently unsustainable or extirpated, or to improve genetic resilience throughout their historical range, including refugia populations. (Threats 1.1, 1.3, 3.1, 3.2, 5, 7.1, 8.1, 9.1)
- Establish and maintain hatchery or other captive populations and provide progeny to meet conservation needs. (Threats 1.3, 3.1, 5, 7.1, 8.1, 9.1)
- Rescue (salvage) native aquatic wildlife at risk from imminent threats, and return salvaged wildlife when appropriate. (Threats 3.1, 3.2, 5, 8.1)
4. Education and Awareness
- Make presentations at professional meetings and public events to increase awareness of effects of threats to aquatic wildlife species and habitats with an emphasis on how the threats can be reduced. (Threats 1.3, 3.1, 5, 7.1, 8.1, 9.1)
- Expand wildlife viewing programs to improve associated infrastructure (signs, platforms, etc.) and to reach larger and more diverse audiences. (Threats 4.3, 7.1)
6. Livelihood, Economic and Other Incentives
- Engage landowners and partners to participate in Safe Harbor Agreements, Habitat Conservation Plans, Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA), and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA). (Threats 1.1, 1.3, 3.1)
7. External Capacity Building
- Collaborate with various partners (e.g., statewide, regional, national, and international) to develop and implement management plans, conservation agreements, recovery actions, research, management recommendations, and to determine the effectiveness of specific management efforts. (Threats 1.3, 3.1)
Conservation in the Context of Climate Change
The following describes some of the conservation strategies that may mitigate the effects of a changing climate for this habitat type. Strategies have been adapted from guidelines by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA 2009).
Establish new wild and/or captive populations of climate vulnerable SGCN.
Conserve a variety of habitats that support healthy populations of fish and wildlife as climate changes.
Conduct research targeting species and habitat types likely to be vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Other Conservation Actions
The following describe other routine or on-going conservation actions AZGFD regularly performs in this habitat type:
- Conduct surveys and monitor populations of SGCN as specified in work plans and job statements.
- Implement conservation actions to promote populations of SGCN species.
- Identify suitable habitat and assess the quality of lentic habitat for potential reintroduction or release.
- Collect specimens or samples for taxonomic analysis, genetics, research, and/or disease testing.
- Investigate the use of novel husbandry techniques, new technology, and/or life history research on native aquatic wildlife to improve survival, growth, production, health, condition, transportation, release and post-release performance of captive progeny into the wild.
- Fund or work with partners to conduct conservation-related aquatic species research.
- Manage recreational activities within lentic systems to minimize negative impacts to habitat and associated species.
Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs)
The following list are terrestrial COAs where conservation efforts would benefit wildlife and their habitats. For specific aquatic COAs, refer to the COA map.
- 4 FRI - Rim Country
- Appleton-Whittell and Las Cienagas
- Central Arizona Springsnails
- Coal Mine Spring
- Gila Box
- Lake Havasu
- Mittry Lake Wildlife Area
- Porter Springs Wash and Cold Springs
- Roosevelt Lake Wildlife Area
- San Francisco Peaks
- Sonoita Creek SNA and Patagonia Lake
- White Mountains
- Whitewater Draw State Wildlife Area
The following is a list of the organizations and agencies that AZGFD regularly partners with on conservation efforts in this habitat type:
- Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
- Coconino National Forest
- Coronado National Forest
- Kaibab National Forest
- Prescott National Forest
- Tonto National Forest
- BLM Arizona Strip Field Office
- BLM Safford Field Office
- BLM Tucson Field Office
- USFWS Arizona Ecological Services
- USFWS Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation offices
- USFWS National Wildlife refuges
- White Mountain Apache Tribe
- San Carlos Apache Tribe
- Gila River Indian Community
- Navajo Nation
- Hopi Nation
- Hualapai Nation
- Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
- Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
- Salt River Project
- US Bureau of Reclamation
- AZ Department of Environmental Quality
- AZ Department of Water Resources
- AZ State Parks and Trails
- AZ State Land Department
- Arizona State University
- Northern Arizona University
- Maricopa County Parks and Recreation
- Pima County Natural Resources
- Parks and Recreation
- Mesa Community College
- Scottsdale Community College
- Black Canyon City Heritage Park
- Deer Valley High School
- Ciénega High School
- Lake Havasu High School
- Palo Verde High School
- Apache Elementary School
- Hermosa Montessori Elementary School
- Tohono Chul Park
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Phoenix Zoo
- Desert Botanical Garden
- The Nature Conservancy
- Audubon Southwest
- Safari Club International Wildlife Museum
- Amerind Museum
- Arizona Historical Society
- Trout Unlimited
- Arizona Field Ornithologists
Important Conservation Resources
The following are relevant conservation agreements, plans, and other documents or particular interest regarding wildlife in this habitat type:
- Bald Eagle Conservation Assessment and Strategy
- Chiricahua Leopard Frog Recovery Plan
- Conservation Agreement for Roundatail Chub, Bluehead Sucker, and Flannelmouth Sucker
- Razorback Sucker Recovery Goals
- Fishes of the Rio Yaqui Recovery Plan
- Desert Pupfish Recovery Plan
- Sonoran Chub Recovery Plan
- Gila Topminnow Recovery Plan
- Pima County Multi-Species Conservation Plan
- Arizona Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Plan
- Sonoran Joint Venture Conservation Plan
- Arizona Bat Conservation Strategic Plan
- Roundatail Chub Species Status Assessment