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San Antonio, TX, United States

Niemiller M.L.,Yale University | Graening G.O.,California State University, Sacramento | Fenolio D.B.,San Antonio Zoo | Godwin J.C.,Auburn University | And 4 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2013

The delimitation of cryptic species and lineages is a common finding of phylogenetic studies. Species previously considered to be of low conservation priority might actually be comprised of multiple lineages with substantially smaller geographic ranges and smaller populations that are of much greater conservation concern and that require different conservation strategies. Cryptic biodiversity is an especially common finding in phylogenetic studies of subterranean fauna; however, most cryptic lineages remain undescribed and have not been subjected to conservation assessments. As many subterranean species are of high conservation concern, the conservation assessment of cryptic lineages is important for developing effective conservation and management strategies. In particular, some lineages might be in need of immediate conservation action even before formal taxonomic description. Here we explore this issue by conducting IUCN Red List and NatureServe conservation assessments on recently discovered cryptic lineages of the southern cavefish (Typhlichthys subterraneus) species complex. We ascertained threats associated with extinction risk, identified priority lineages and populations for immediate conservation efforts, and identified knowledge gaps to expedite the development of conservation and management strategies before formal taxonomic description. Most cryptic lineages are at an elevated risk of extinction, including one lineage classified as "Critically Endangered." We identified ten threats impacting cavefish lineages that vary in both scope and severity, including groundwater pollution, hydrological changes from impoundments, and over-collection. Our threat assessments and recommendations can be used by stakeholders to prioritize effective and appropriate management initiatives aiding in the conservation of these lineages even before they are formally recognized. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Espinasa L.,Marist College | Espinasa M.,SUNY Ulster County Community College | Fenolio D.B.,San Antonio Zoo | Slay M.E.,AArkansas Field Office | Niemiller M.L.,University of Kentucky
Subterranean Biology | Year: 2014

The "thysanuran" (Zygentoma: Nicoletiidae) Speleonycta ozarkensis is the only troglobiotic nicoletiid from the Ozark Highlands. It was originally described with only four specimens from four different cave systems in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The scarcity of available specimens has made it difficult to determine whether morphological variation among populations represents intraspecific or interspecific variation. We examined molecular (16S rRNA) variation among populations and found no evidence that they represent a species complex. Because of its limited distribution and lack of ecological and life history data, S. ozarkensis may be a species of conservation concern. We therefore conducted a conservation status assessment. We bioinventoried 44 caves in Arkansas and Oklahoma to determine the distribution of S. ozarkensis. A new locality in Adair Co., Oklahoma, was discovered and new specimens were collected to better assess morphological variation among populations. Data on ecology and life history was gathered. We determined the conservation status of the species and identified potential threats to existing populations. Despite being known from a few localities, S. ozarkensis has a broad distribution approaching 10,000 km2. Molecular data suggest S. ozarkensis is capable of considerable dispersal and is primarily an epikarstic species, perhaps explaining why it has been infrequently collected from caves. Conservation assessments revealed that S. ozarkensis is at a slight risk of extinction. We identified seven threats impacting populations that vary in scope and severity, but only recreational caving (three caves) and development associated with urbanization (one cave) have the greatest potential to immediately impact populations. © Luis Espinasa et al.

McAllister C.T.,Eastern Oklahoma State College | Bursey C.R.,Pennsylvania State University | Fenolio D.,San Antonio Zoo | Niemiller M.L.,Yale University
Comparative Parasitology | Year: 2013

One of 4 Georgia blind salamanders (25%), Eurycea wallacei from Dougherty County, Georgia, U.S.A., were found to be infected in its small intestine with a Bothriocephalus sp. tapeworm; a single E. wallacei from Jackson County, Florida, U.S.A., was negative. Because the internal anatomy of this worm was immature, species identity was not possible. This is the first definitive report of any parasite from this G2 ranked (globally imperiled) host and a new distribution record for the genus.

News Article | June 18, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

A very rare blind catfish species formerly known to live only in Mexico has been found in an underwater cave in Texas. The live fish, seen in a deep limestone cave back in May at Amistad National Recreation Area near Del Rio, were identified as the Mexican blindcat or the Prietella phreatophila. This small pair’s species was confirmed by ichthyology curator Dean Hendrickson of the University of Texas at Austin, and they have been brought inside the San Antonio Zoo. The discovery supports the belief that watery caves below the Rio Grande basin in Texas and Northern Mexican state Coahuila may connect the American state and Mexican parts of the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer, which is the fish’s only known dwelling so far. Hendrickson said that rumors of blind and white catfishes being spotted in the area have been swirling since the 1960s — yet this is the first confirmed sighting of the species. “I’ve seen more of these things than anybody, and these specimens look just the ones from Mexico,” he said. Back in April 2015, Jack Johnson, resource manager for the Amistad National Park Service, first saw a number of the eyeless fish. From there he worked with a team of biologists to find more of the fish last month. The endangered Mexican blindcat is slow-swimming, grows up to 3 inches long, and maintains a light pink hue because its blood is visible through its translucent skin. It exists in groundwater exclusively. Where the cave-dwelling species reside, eyes, speed, and pigmentation do not appear to be necessary like they would be in surface creatures, as these fish have evolved abilities to successfully inhabit total darkness. This species was described originally back in 1954, a time when it was detected in springs and wells in Coahuila. Afterwards it was deemed endangered by the government of Mexico and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and was sought out in multiple expeditions in Texas and Mexico. The findings lead the total number of blind catfish species in the U.S. to three, all discovered in Texas. The newly spotted fish joins the toothless blindcat and the widemouth blindcat, which both reside in Edwards Aquifer. Johnson warned that aquifer systems supporting this unique fish are facing threats and challenges from contamination and the excessive pumping of groundwater. A look into the condition of the Amistad fish will lend insight into the overall condition of the aquifer along with related water resources. The fish have not been made available for public viewing and will be kept alive in a special facility that can accommodate aquifer and cave species at the zoo. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Cerveny S.N.S.,San Antonio Zoo | Thompson M.E.,Texas Veterinary Pathology Associates | Corner S.M.,Illinois College | Swinford A.K.,Texas A&M University | Coke R.L.,San Antonio Zoo
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2013

A 16-yr-old male clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) was presented for lethargy and anorexia. A cutaneous abdominal mass extending from the pubis to just caudal to the xiphoid process was present. A biopsy revealed histologic lesions consistent with an atypical mycobacterial infection consisting of diffuse, severe, pyogranulomatous dermatitis and panniculitis, with clear vacuoles and 3-5 μm, intravacuolar, faintly eosinophilic, filamentous bacilli that stained positively with FiteFaraco modified acid-fast stain. The clouded leopard had biochemical findings suggestive of chronic renal failure and euthanasia was elected. Histological evaluation of tissues collected at postmortem examination revealed multicentric B-cell lymphoma involving the oral cavity, liver, spleen, and multiple lymph nodes, bilateral testicular seminomas, thyroid follicular cell adenoma, thyroid C cell adenoma, and biliary cystadenomas. Bacterial culture and molecular sequencing identified the causative agent of the cutaneous abdominal mass as belonging to the Mycobacterium fortuitum group. © American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

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