Kentucky cave shrimp
- Taxa: Crustacea
- Range: Kentucky
- Status: Endangered
The Kentucky cave shrimp is a small crustacean that grows to a length of 30mm (1.18 inches), lacks eyes, and has a translucent body. These features suggest the animal has long lived underground. It is one of only two known species of the genus Palaemonias and is one of only three existing species of its family found in North America and Mexico.
The Kentucky cave shrimp only lives in underground streams. They typically inhabit large, base-level cave streams characterized by slow flow, abundant organic material, coarse to fine grain sand, and coarse silt sediments.
This crustacean feeds by grazing the surface of sediments in caves, consuming protozoans, algal cells, fungi, and other organic materials.
The Kentucky cave shrimp is found exclusively in Kentucky. It has only been observed in underground streams in and surrounding Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky.
Before it was listed as an endangered species, the Kentucky cave shrimp was known from five localities, including four within the Echo River Spring Groundwater Basin and one from the Pike Spring Groundwater Basin.
Currently, the Kentucky cave shrimp is restricted to nine groundwater basins in the Mammoth Cave National Park region of central Kentucky:
- Echo River Spring
- Ganter Spring
- Running Branch Spring
- Mile 205.7 Spring
- Pike Spring
- Double Sink (Sandhouse Cave)
- Turnhole Spring
- McCoy Blue Spring
- Suds Spring
Counties Where the Species is Known or Believed to Occur
- Kentucky: Hart, Barren and Edmonson counties
The main threats for this species are poor water quality and habitat deterioration resulting from groundwater contamination, siltation caused by poor land use practices, and other non-point source pollutants. Small population size and isolation of populations makes the Kentucky cave shrimp vulnerable to random or stochastic events (e.g. toxic chemical spills).
Subject matter experts
- Michael A. Floyd, PhD, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Kentucky. firstname.lastname@example.org
Designated critical habitat
Critical habitat for this species was designated in October 1983, and consists of a stream in a base level cave passage in Mammoth Cave.
Federal Register notices
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