Thomas Iliffe



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Publication Date

February 2015


Cave divers from Texas AM University at Galveston, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and University of Texas Grotto met in Balmorhea, Reeves County, Texas to dive and sample in Phantom Lake Spring Cave from 13 to 17 March 2014. The purpose of the dives was to perform in-cave biological sampling, create species images, perform photomonitoring of root mats, and conduct familiarization dives. Biologists collected at least one new potential troglobite species, an ostracod, and made several other collections to assist a taxonomic and genetic research project on subterranean silverfish. Biologists created images of five spring species and five cave species. Comparing photos of root mats taken in 1999 vs 2014 shows water level declines of one meter, and that the root mats have not extended significantly to 'catch up' to the dropping water level. This could contribute to a loss of habitat for stygobitic species such as the rare Lirceolus cocytus isopod which is found nearly exclusively on root mats, as well has a change in the surface plant community.

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