The Rye Cove isopod is an eyeless, unpigmented isopod that exclusively lives in the clear cave streams of the Rye Cove area of southwestern Virginia. Like other isopods, the Rye Cove isopod is a crustacean with a rigid, segmented exoskeleton. This isopod primarily occupies riffles in cave streams, where it can filter the water for oxygen and perhaps food.
All isopod females brood their young in a pouch under the thorax.
Very little is known about the life history and life cycle of this species.
These isopods are exclusively found within the underground cave streams of the Rye Cove area of southwestern Virginia, a significant karst area defined by landscape underlain by limestone that has been eroded, producing ridges, towers, fissures and sinkholes. They are typically found in riffles, where they can filter the water for food and oxygen.
A natural chamber or series of chambers in the earth or in the side of a hill or cliff. An irregular limestone region with sinkholes, underground streams and caverns.
Given how illusive this species is, not much is known about its feeding habits. However, Rye Cove Cave isopods are thought to collect organic matter that filters into the cave streams or scrape bacterial film from substrate.
Rye Cove Cave isopods are blind and live in continuous darkness. They cannot swim, but instead crawl under and on the surface of rocks and other substrates beneath the water. Evidence suggests they can withstand high flow-rates by clinging to these surfaces.
At only a half-inch long and entirely unpigmented, Rye Cove Cave isopods are hard to spot. Similar in shape to other isopods, this cave-dwelling species resembles common wood louse and pill bugs.
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