Morphological identification of many fairy shrimp species is difficult because distinguishing characters are restricted to adults. We developed two multiplex polymerase chain reaction assays that differentiate among three Branchinecta fairy shrimp with distributional overlap in southern California vernal pools. Two of the species are federally listed as threatened. Molecular identification of Branchinecta from cysts allows for species surveys to be conducted during the dry season, expanding the timeframe for population assessment and providing a less intrusive method of sampling sensitive vernal pool habitats. ?? Published 2009. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.