At Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Otis Bay completed a habitat restoration project for the endemic relict dace (Relictus solitarius),
a species of Great Basin minnow native to 4 valleys of northeastern Nevada. The objectives of this project were: a) to locate any existing populations of relict dace present within the Refuge boundaries; b) to construct protected habitat ponds to serve as refugia for the relict dace; and c) to introduce relict dace into the protected refugia ponds. To meet these objectives, OBEC coordinated with federal, state, and private agencies in conducting biological field surveys of over 40 Refuge springs and channels to locate populations of dace and gather baseline data for use in the planning process. To determine which Refuge springs contained populations of pure relict dace and which springs contained hybrids (i.e., speckled dace, a similar species which was introduced to the Refuge during the 1950s), OBEC captured fish and took fin clips for genetic testing.
OBEC identified 12 locations at Ruby Lake NWR for relict dace habitat ponds and designed and constructed new ponds during October of 2011. Invasive vertebrate and invertebrate species (primarily bass and signal crayfish) were removed from several drainages prior to construction. Constructed ponds include features such as crayfish barriers and fish barriers to prevent non-native species from re-entering relict refugia areas. Results of genetic testing, biological surveys, and background research were used to locate three source populations of relict dace for stocking new refugia ponds and to inform management recommendations for the Refuge. Relict dace were introduced into new refugia ponds in 2012.