Desert-Adapted Species Struggle

Death Valley also boasts an array of desert-adapted Mojave species, despite its harsh conditions, even in seemingly impossible places like Badwater. Periodically, storms create shallow, fleeting ponds on the salt flat, full of minerals and salt. But that is just fine with soldier flies, which lay their eggs in the salt flats so their larvae will hatch and wiggle across the bottom in a biological sprint against the drying of the fleeting pond. Algae blooms and fat bronze water beetles plunge into the fleeting pools to graze, breathing through antenna projecting out into the air. Brine fliesĀ also seemingly miraculously appear in the ephemeral pools, thriving on levels of salts and minerals that would quickly kill most other creatures. Such brine flies live in these alkaline pools throughout the West, forming the base of a quick-acting food chain. The larvae attach themselves to the bottom and grow a long tube out of their back end that reaches to the surface as a breathing tube. They eventually pupate into their adult fly form and escape to the surface in a bubble of air. They then fly off, seeking nectar and pollen.