Don Sada Profile Photo
Dr. Don Sada
Hourly - Research Professor Ecology

Professional Interests

Dr. Sada’s primary research interest examines the relationships between environmental factors and the structure and function of arid land aquatic invertebrate and vertebrate communities. He also works on aquatic mollusk biogeography and taxonomy, habitat preference of rare aquatic animals in springs, and designing management programs for isolated wetlands species. He recently completed inventorying more than 1,100 springs in Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In the late 1990s, he prepared the Owens Basin Wetland and Aquatic Species Recovery Plan, Inyo and Mono Counties, California, and inventoried Owens Valley, California, springs for the City of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power.

Dr. Sada is an applied ecologist and often assists government agencies, public utilities, and private organizations develop strategies that minimize environmental influences of land-use practices. His current work includes examining effects of human and natural disturbances on aquatic macroinvertebrate abundance and community structure in arid land springs, spring inventories throughout Nevada and California, developing spring survey protocols for the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, and revising the recovery plan for the Shortnose and Lost River Suckers. In other recent work he has examined the effects of increased discharge on trout communities in Sierra Nevada streams, guided baseline studies to assess the efficacy of restoration programs in the lower Truckee River, conducted spring and springsnail surveys throughout large portions of the southwest, and organized and developed an environmental and biotic database of approximately 4000 springs in the arid west.


Degree Year Institution Area
Ph.D. 1990 University of Nevada, Reno Biology
M.S. 1977 California State University, Long Beach Biology
B.S. 1973 University of the Pacific, Stockton CA Biology

Academic Affiliations

  • Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences University of Nevada Reno
Sada, D. W., Lutz, A. D. (2016). Environmental Characteristics of Great Basin and Mojave Desert Springs, Unpublished report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative

Mehler, K., Acharya, K., Sada, D. W., Yu, Z. (2015). Factors affecting spatiotemporal benthic macroinvertebrate diversity and secondary production in a semi-arid watershed, Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 30 (2), 197-214, 10.1080/02705060.2014.974225

Mehler, K., Acharya, K., Sada, D. W. (2015). Spatial and temporal pattern in length-mass regressions of freshwater gastropods in Nevada spring ecosystems, Malacologia, 58 (1-2), 167-177

Hogel, C., Sada, D. W., Rosamond, C. L. (2014). Using benthic indicator species and community gradients to optimize restoration in the arid, endorheic Walker River watershed, western U.S. River Research and Applications. doi: 10.1002/rra.2765, River Research and Applications, doi:10.1002/rra.2765

Adams, K. D., Sada, D. W. (2014). Surface water hydrology and geomorphic characterization of a playa lake system: Implications for monitoring the effects of climate change, Journal of Hydrology, 510, 92-101

Frisbee, M. D., Wilson, J. L., Sada, D. W. (2013). Climate change and the fate of desert springs, EOS, 94, 114

Mensing, S. A., Sharpe, S. E., Tunno, I., Sada, D. W., Starrat, S., Smith, J., Thomas, J. M. (2013). The late Holocene dry period: multiproxy evidence for an extended drought during 2800 and 1850 cal yr BP across the central Great Basin, USA, Quaternary Science Reviews, 78, 266-282

Mehler, K., Acharya, K., Yu, Z., Sada, D. W. (2013). Elemental stoichiometry of basal resources and benthic macroinvertebrates along a land use gradient in a Great Basin watershed, Hydrobiologia, 716 (1), 115-129

Sada, D. W., Rosamond, C. L., Adams, K. D. (2013). Effects of recreational use on branchiopod egg and ephippia density, Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, Nevada, USA, Journal of Crustacean Biology, 33, 286-292

Young, M. H., Moser, D. P., Sada, D. W., Zhu, J., Woodrow, J., Stone, M. C., Shanafield, M., Schulman, C., Fitzgerald, B. C. (2009). PAM IV Final Report: Evaluation of the effectiveness of linear anionic polyacrylamide (LA-PAM) when used to reduce seepage in unlined irrigation canals within the 17 Western States. 2009., Report to USBR.

Susfalk, R. B., Sada, D. W., Moser, D. P., Zhu, J., Chen, L., Epstein, B. J., Schmidt, M., Labahn, S., Rosamond, C. L., Woodrow, J., Fitzgerald, B. C., Goreham, J., Smith, M. L. (2009). PAM III Final Report: Evaluation of the effectiveness of linear anionic polyacrylamide (LA-PAM) when used to reduce seepage in unlined irrigation canals within the 17 Western States. R.B. Susfalk, Ed., Report to USBR.

Sada, D. W. (2008). Synecology of a springsnail (Caenogastropoda: Hydrobiidae) assemblage in a western U.S. thermal spring province, The Veliger, 50, 59-71

Trammell, E. J., Berry, K., Bassett, S., Sada, D. W. (2008). Distribution and recovery of vegetational assemblages in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada, The Southwestern Naturalist, 53, 326-334

Susfalk, R. B., Sada, D. W., Martin, C., Young, M. H., Gates, T., Rosamond, C. L., Mihevc, T. M., Arrowood, T., Shanafield, M., Epstein, B., Lutz, A. D., Woodrow, J., Miller, G., Smith, D. (2008). Evaluation of Linear Anionic Polyacrylamide (LA-PAM) Application to Water Delivery Canals for Seepage Reduction

Hershler, R., Liu, H. S., Sada, D. W. (2007). Origin and diversification of the Soldier Meadow springsnails (Hydrobiidae: Pyrgulopsis), a species flock in the northwestern Great Basin, United States., Journal of Molluscan Studies, 73, 167-183

Sada, D. W., Fleishman, E., Murphy, D. (2006). Effects of environmental heterogeneity and disturbance on the native and non-native flora of desert springs., Biological Invasions, 8, 1091-1101

Trammell, E. J., Berry, K., Bassett, S., Sada, D. W. (2006). Land use and land cover change as it relates to groundwater conditions in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge from 1948 to 2004, JAWRA

Sada, D. W., Fleischman, E., Murphy, D. D. (2005). Associations among spring-dependent aquatic assemblages and environmental and land use gradients in a Mojave Desert mountain range, Diversity and Distributions, 11, 91-99

Williams, J. E., Macdonald, C. A., Williams, C. D., Weeks, H., Lampman, G., Sada, D. W. (2005). Prospects for recovering endemic fishes persuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, Fisheries, 30, 24-29

Sada, D. W., Rost, A., Trammell, J. (2005). Fish Community and Stream Habitat Relationships, Eastern Lake Tahoe Basin, Nevada, DRI Report No. 41217

Sada, D. W., Brock, J. T., Fritsen, C. H., Rosamond, C. L., Shope, C., Benner, S. G., McKay, W. A. (2005). Baseline Hydrologic and Biological Monitoring, McCarran Ranch Restoration Project, Lower Truckee River, Nevada (2003-2004), DRI Report No. 41220

Sada, D. W., Sharpe, S. E. (2004). Conference Proceedings. Spring-fed Wetlands: Important Scientific and Cultural Resources of the Intermountain Region, 2002, DRI Report No. 41210

Sada, D. W., Scoppettone, G. G., Rissler, P. H. (2002). Carlin Trend Springsnail Surveys, Elko, Eureka, and Lander Counties, Nevada, DRI Report No. 41181

Sada, D. W. (2001). Distribution of Springsnails (Family Hydrobiidae) Inland Feeder Project Area, San Bernardino County, California, DRI Report No. 41175

Conference Proceedings
Hausner, M. B., Sada, D. W. (2017). Climate change, reduced discharge, and thermal variability in the spring headwaters of the Muddy river. Devils Hole Workshop: Beatty, NV, May 3, 2017-May 5, 2017

Hausner, M. B., Sada, D. W. (2016). Impacts of Reduced Discharge on the Thermal Habitat of a Desert Spring Brook, Abstracts with Programs, 48 (7). Geological Society of America Annual Meeting: Denver, Colorado, September 25, 2016-September 28, 2016, 188-4, 10.1130/abs/2016AM-284355

Hausner, M. B., Sada, D. W. (2015). Physical thresholds as ecological proxies in aquatic ecosystems. AGU: San Francisco, CA, December 14, 2015-December 18, 2015, Abstract No. #H11E-1401

Sada, D. W., Thomas, J. M. (2015). Aquifer provenance, flow pathways, landscape setting and BMI community relationships in Great Basin and Mojave Desert springs. Nevada Water Resources Association Conference: Reno, NV, December 9, 2015-December 11, 2015

Hausner, M. B., Sada, D. W., Stone, M. C., Morrison, R. (2015). Integrating physical and ecological methods to assess changing spring-fed aquatic ecosystems. Science for Parks and Parks for Science: Berkeley, CA, March 25, 2015-March 27, 2015

Hausner, M. B., Gaines, D. B., Morrison, R. R., Sada, D. W., Scoppettone, G. G., Stone, M. C., Suárez, F., Tyler, S. W., Wilson, K. P. (2015). Physical thresholds as ecological proxies in aquatic ecosystems. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting: San Francisco, Calif., December 14, 2015-December 18, 2015, H11E-1401

Herbst, D. B., Sada, D. W. (2013). Biotic Indicators of Arid Land Spring Reference Conditions. Desert Fishes Council: Flagstaff, AZ, November 14, 2013-November 16, 2013

Sada, D. W. (2008). Great Basin riparian and aquatic ecosystems, 49-52. Collaborative Management and Research in the Great Basin. Examining issues and developing a framework for action: Reno

Susfalk, R. B., Martin, C., Sada, D. W., Young, M. H., Gates, T., Shanafield, M., Fitzgerald, B. C., Smith, D. L. (2008). Benefits and Risks of Using Linear Anionic Polyacrylamide (LA-PAM) for Seepage Reduction in Unlined Water Delivery Canals, GC43C-0747. AGU: San Francisco

Sada, D. W. (2005). Ecological implications for Great Basin springsnail biogeography

Shope, C., Benner, S. G., Brock, J. T., Sada, D. W., Fritsen, C. H. (2004). Influence of temporal and spatial river temperature heterogeneity on nutrient cycling: Olympic Valley, California