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Fact Sheet

Ozark Cavefish (Amblyopsis rosea)

 

Photo of the Ozark cavefish.

 

The Ozark cavefish is a threatened species. Threatened species are animals and plants that are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. Endangered Species are animals and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct. Identifying, protecting, and restoring, endangered and threatened species is the primary objective of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species program.

 

What is the Ozark cavefish?

  • Scientific Name - Amblyopsis rosae
  • Appearance - The Ozark cavefish is a small fish about 2-1/4 inches long. It is pinkish-white and blind.
  • Habitat - The Ozark cavefish lives in cave streams and springs. The cave ecosystem is often dependent upon bats (especially gray bats) as a source of energy and nutrients.
  • Reproduction - Very little is known about the reproduction of the Ozark cavefish. Spawning is often triggered by spring floods. The greatest obstacle to the cavefish may be finding a potential mate at the right time.
  • Feeding Habitats - Because it cannot see, the cavefish depends on sensing water movement to find animals to eat. The cavefish primarily eats plankton. They also eat isopods, amphipods, crayfish, salamander larvae, and bat guano.
  • Range - The cavefish can be found in caves within the Springfield Plateau of the Ozark Highlands in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Why Is the Ozark Cavefish Threatened?

  • Water Pollution - Chemicals in the groundwater threaten the cavefish.
  • Destruction of Habitat - Some caves have intentionally been sealed shut by humans. Sealing cave entrances cuts off the food supply to the cave ecosystem. Other caves have been inundated by reservoirs or have dried up due to lowered water tables, drastically changing the habitat.
  • Overcollection - Ozark cavefish taken from the wild by collectors can hurt or eliminate local populations.
  • Disturbance - Exploration of caves by careless recreational cavers can damage the cave ecosystem. Disturbances can destroy the habitat, interrupt the breeding of the cavefish, and cause the fish to leave.

What Is Being Done to Prevent Extinction of the Ozark cavefish?

  • Listing - The Ozark cavefish was added to the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants on December 3, 1984.
  • Recovery Plan - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a recovery plan that describes actions needed to help the cavefish survive.
  • Habitat Protection - A variety of government and private conservation agencies are all working to preserve the Ozark cavefish and its habitat. Some private landowners have voluntarily agreed to protect caves and help improve the groundwater on their land.

What Can I Do to Help Prevent the Extinction of Species?

  • Learn - Learn more about the Ozark cavefish and other endangered and threatened species. Understand how the destruction of habitat leads to loss of endangered and threatened species and our nation's plant and animal diversity. Tell others about what you have learned.
  • Write - Write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or your state fish and game agency to learn more about endangered and threatened species.
  • Join - Join a conservation group; many have local chapters.

Created November 1997

 

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Last updated: April 1, 2014