Numerous wildlife species depend heavily upon the ecosystem of Walker Lake. In any given
day a person visiting the lake will see many different species of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, and fish. Walker Lake has always been the largest staging area for Common Loons west of the Mississippi River, but in recent years, Loon numbers have declined rapidly due to the loss in food source for the Loon.
Loons depend heavily upon Tui Chub for their diet. As lake levels decrease, and TDS
(Total Dissolved Solids) levels increase, it becomes more difficult for fish such as Tui Chub to survive (No Tui Chub are believed to still be alive in Walker Lake as of 2015). Tui Chub are not only critical to the survival of Loons, but to White Pelicans, Cormorants, and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout as well. Without Tui Chub, there are no Trout. This means less fish to feed on insects such as Damselflies, which lay their eggs in the lake’s waters and hatch along the shorelines during the month of August. As the Damselfly population increases it creates a larger food supply for other insects such as Orb Weaver Spiders, which in turn causes their populations to rise as well. Over the last decade Orb Weaver Spiders have been witnessed along the beaches and railings of Walker Lake in unbelievable numbers because of this. The spiders may look big and scary, but do not worry, they do not go after humans or animals. They are there for the insects, and are in such large numbers because they no longer have fish to compete with when it comes to food supply. The spiders are normally only highly visible during the summer months.
Orb Weaver Spider
Walker Lake Crusaders
Other migratory birds can be found at Walker Lake throughout the year. Shorebirds such as Snipes, Avocets, and Dowitchers can be seen regularly. In addition, waterfowl such as Ducks, Geese, Coots, and Grebes are yearly visitors to the lake. The spectacle of the Western Grebe’s mating ritual is something visitors to Walker Lake have the pleasure of seeing.
In addition to many bird and fish species that depend upon the lake, there are also many reptiles, such as Zebra-tailed Lizards, Horned Lizards, King Snakes, etc. that live among the rocky, brush-laden landscape, feeding on insects.
Coyotes and Kit Foxes scour the beaches preying upon small birds and other animal matter.
Large Mammals such as Pronghorn Antelope and Mule Deer forage for grasses along the shores of the lake, while Desert Bighorn Sheep inhabit the rocky outcroppings found along the lake’s western shore. Not to mention the “famed” Walker Wild Horse Herd that relies upon a steady diet of marsh grasses provided by the lake’s small fresh water tributaries. The Walker Lake ecosystem, as elaborate as it is, is in a very fragile state. An imbalance in any ecosystem can be devastating to that ecosystem and Walker’s is a perfect example. We must act now to save this valuable ecosystem from total collapse.
Desert Bighorn Sheep
Walker Lake Crusaders