the proper usage of the terms "Refuge" and "Refugium."
as defined in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, is
place that provides shelter or protection from danger or distress"
to which one has recourse in difficulty."
contrast, is defined as "an area of relatively unaltered climate that
is inhabited by plants and animals during a period of continental climatic
change (as a glaciation) and remains as a center of relict forms from which
a new dispersion and speciation may take place after climatic readjustment."
Therefore, the work conservation
biologists do to retain natural habitats may be considered preservation
of refugia. However, the construction of artificial habitats by conservation
biologists (within a refugium) creates refuges.
this in mind, here in the southwest, conservation biologists may consider
the Owens Valley of California, where the Owens pupfish (Cyprinodon
radiosus) resides, to be a refugium for the pupfish and other native plants
and animals. Within this area conservation biologists have constructed the
Owens Valley Native Fish Sanctuary , which is a refuge designed to protect
native fishes and other, related taxa.
the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge east of Death Valley National Park
serves to protect the refugium of Ash Meadows. Anything that the Ash
Meadows National Wildlife Refuge might do artificially to protect or preserve
the native fish fauna (such as the Amargosa Refuge) is just that: a refuge.
did the terms come to be confused by conservation biologists? Probably
because in the early days of our preservation work conservation biologists
were so obsessed with protecting things that they never really looked up
the definition of the words we were using. Besides, the term "Refugium" somehow
seems to be more sophisticated and "cool," and therefore more
likely to gain the attention of people who fund refuges.
the case of the Pahrump
poolfish (Empetrichthys latos), this fish no longer exists in
its native habitat. It is therefore necessary (legally) for conservation
biologists to construct artificial habitats (refuges) to keep them in existence.
If and when their native habitat (Manse
Spring in Pahrump Valley, Nevada) should again begin to flow (an optimistic
assumption at this point in time), it would then be possible for conservation
biologists to reintroduce them from their refuges back into the refugium
that is their evolutionary home.
[Adapted from a correspondence
between Edwin P. (Phil) Pister Executive Secretary, Desert Fishes Council
, concerning ideas reaised by Dr. Gary Meffe, the editor of Conservation
Biology and Edited by Matthew Huffine
 See http://www.thesierraweb.com/sightseeing/slough.html,