The conservation status of Texas groundwater invertebrates


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Publication Date

January 2018


Biodiversity conservation requires an objective and consistent method for evaluating the conservation status of species. Conservation status assessments can identify conservation priorities and can highlight data gaps, effective conservation strategies, and groups of taxa that are underrepresented in conservation efforts relative to charismatic flagship and umbrella species. Groundwater invertebrates have a suite of traits that make them inherently vulnerable. But they go largely unnoticed by the general public and conservation practitioners, and comprehensive conservation status assessments are lacking for most species. In this article, the conservation status of all sixty-nine described groundwater-obligate invertebrates recorded from Texas, U.S.A. was assessed using NatureServe methodology. Some of the smallest taxa (e.g. copepods, ostracods, and mites) are too poorly known to evaluate their conservation status. Species restricted to springs were generally more at risk than species in other groundwater habitats, and beetles and snails were the most imperiled taxonomic groups. Most species faced low or medium severity threats, and only seven percent faced high or very high magnitude threats. Threat level varied among aquifers and among sites within aquifers and was primarily dependent on human population density and the adequacy of regulatory mechanisms protecting groundwater quality and quantity. Regardless of threat severity, fifty-five percent of evaluated species were ranked as imperiled or critically imperiled, largely due to extreme small-range endemism. Relative to other regions, Texas’ groundwater fauna is not unique in terms of rarity and threat, suggesting that as an ecological group, groundwater-obligate species are probably among the world’s most imperiled taxa.


Stygobiont, Natureserve, Conservation Status Assessment, Aquifer, Imperiled




Biodiversity and Conservation, Vol. 27, no. 2 (2018).