Starting in the 1960s, groundwater pumping in the Devils Hole area caused the cave's water levels to drop. This damaged the pupfish's natural habitat, making it difficult for the now-endangered species to maintain its numbers.
At latest count, 87 pupfish live in Devils Hole today, up from its all-time low of 35 adult pupfish in 2013, but down from their historical numbers of 450 in the fall and 250 in the spring (the seasonal variation is normal).
Wilson feeds the Devils Hole pupfish, who rely heavily on the shallow shelf near the water's surface for survival. Now that the water levels are lower, the shallow shelf doesn't provide as much support to the fish as before.
The 110,000-gallon Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility near Devils Hole re-creates the conditions in the underwater cave. This enables scientists and other staff to establish a "lifeboat" population of the endangered fish.
The team at the Ash Meadows Fish Conservation Facility relies on programmed software to track the conditions inside the replica tank. They monitor it closely to make sure the habitat is just right for the critically endangered fish.