The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list due to taxonomic revision of the species.
The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is a small, cave-dwelling spider that was found to inhabit caves in western Bexar County, Texas. Since it was first described in 1992, the species has been found in only two caves – one located on a highway right-of-way and one located on private property (not to be confused with Bracken Bat Cave near Garden Ridge).
In 2000, the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver and eight other Bexar County karst invertebrate species were listed as endangered under the ESA due to restricted distribution and threats from urban development. Based on the results of genetic and morphological studies, in 2018, researchers “synonymized” the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver with the Madla Cave meshweaver, meaning that they are the same species.
Because the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver no longer meets the definition of a species under the ESA, the Service removed this listed entity from the ESA. However, because individuals previously attributed to this species have been synonymized with the endangered Madla Cave meshweaver, they will continue to remain protected under the ESA.
There is currently one unit of critical habitat designated for Braken Bat Cave meshweaver surrounding the area around Braken Bat Cave, which has been removed with the species’ delisting. This unit, however, will remain designated critical habitat for an endangered beetle that also occurs in the area, the Rhadine infernalis.
The final rule removing the spider from the list of threatened and endangered species will be published in the Federal Register and will take effect 30 days after publication.
The Service’s findings are based on the best available science and include input and review from academia, state agencies, species experts and others. This conclusion has been supported by the scientific community, including the World Spider Catalog.