Fauna Observations at Phantom Lake Cave, Reeves County, Texas

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Fauna Observations at Phantom Lake Cave, Reeves County, Texas

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Title:
Fauna Observations at Phantom Lake Cave, Reeves County, Texas
Creator:
George Veni ( suggested by )
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Language:
English

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General Note:
Prepared for Dr. Thomas Iliffe, Texas AM University at Galveston, 2 February 2015 by Zara Environmental LLC, 1707 West FM 1626, Manchaca, Texas 78652, 512-291-4555 Abstract 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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Open Access - Permission by Author(s)
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See Extended description for more information.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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K26-01385 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.1385 ( USFLDC Handle )
21061 ( karstportal - original NodeID )

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Description
Prepared for Dr. Thomas Iliffe, Texas A&M
University at Galveston, 2 February 2015 by Zara
Environmental LLC, 1707 West FM 1626, Manchaca, Texas
78652, 512-291-4555
Abstract
Cave divers from Texas A&M 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.



PAGE 1

1707 West FM 1626 Manchaca Texas 786 52 512 291 4555 www.zaraenvironmental.com Prepared for Dr. Thomas Iliffe Texas A&M University at Galveston 2 F e b ruary 2015

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 1 Abstract Cave divers from Texas A&M 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 i mages, 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 subter ranean 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, the dropping water level This could contribute to a loss of habitat for stygobitic species suc h 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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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 2 Introduction Mapping and exploration effort s in recent years ha ve expanded the known length and depth of P hantom Lake Spring Cave ( http://www.admfoundation.org/projects/phantom/phantomcave. html ). Additionally Veni (2013) reports on the hydrological connection of Phan tom Lake Spring Cave to San Solomon Springs b ased on a dye trace Phantom Lake Spring Cave has five federally listed species at the spring pool just outside of the entrance to the cave. Table 1 summarizes these species and images of each are contained in the Appendix Table 1 Federal Endangered Species List for Phantom Lake Spring Cave, Reeves County, Texas. Species Federal Status Final listing rule Fish Pecos Gambusia ( Gambusia nobilis ) Endangered 35 FR 16047 Comanche Springs pupfish ( Cyprinodon elegans ) Endangered 32 FR 4001 Invertebrates Phantom Springsnail ( Pyrgulopsis texana ) Endangered 78 FR 41227 Phantom Tryonia ( Tryonia cheatumi ) Endangered 78 FR 41227 Diminutive Amphipod ( Gammarus hyalleloides ) Endangered 78 FR 41227

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 3 Methods All sample collections occurred within the cave, and no animals were collected in the spring area where endangered species occur. On 14 March 2014, d ivers placed a drift net in a high flow area at the pull rope in the beginning of the downstream section of the cave, approximately 300 ft. from the entrance The drift net was retrieved early in the morning of 16 March 2014. Divers searched submerged roots, floors and walls for aquatic species during three dives on 14 and 15 March 2 014. Divers collected samples underwater by hand using a baster and small plastic centrifuge vial. Cavers searched mud, walls, roots, the undersides of rocks and debris in the air filled portions of the cave These samples were placed into small plastic v ials by hand on a single collecting trip on 15 March 2014 Biologists photographed (Appendix ) and accessioned the material for deposition into the Texas Memorial Museum on 21 March 2014. Divers included TAMUG participants: Dr. Thomas Iliffe, Terrence Tysall, Lindy Arbuckle, Jacque Cresswell, Victoria Zambrano, Jake Emmert, Vianne Euresti and Tyler Winkler. From Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: Chris Ledford. From Zara Environmental: Jean Krejca and James Brown. Bill Tucker provided assistance with the historic photograph.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 4 Results Photomonitoring of root mats show that the water levels have dropped approximately one meter since 1999 The distance the root mats hang from the ceiling is unchanged, and currently only a small portion of the original root mat extends beyond the water surface Figure 1 shows the historic picture by Lori Bell and Bill Tucker with markers for historic (upper arrow) and modern (lower arrow) water levels. The images in Figure 2 and Figure 3 were captured in March 2014. Figure 1. Lori Bell and Bill Tucker photo taken on 4 July 1999 Top arrow shows water level at that time ; bottom arrow is 2014 water level.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 5 Figure 2. Jean Krejca photo from 2014 showing small portion of root mat in water. Figure 3. Jean Krejca photo from 201 4 Top arrow shows water level in 1999 bottom arrow is current water level. Root mat hangs down from a crevice in the ceiling.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 6 The species list for the interior of this cave, based on Texas Memorial Museum records, includes: KINGDOM: ANIM ALIA PHYLUM: MOLLUSCA CLASS: GASTROPODA Undetermined material Order: Sorbeoconcha Family: Hydrobiidae Cochliopa texana Pilsbry PHYLUM: ARTHROPODA SUPERCLASS: CRUSTACEA CLASS: OSTRACODA SUBCLASS: PODOCOPA Order: Pod ocopida Suborder: Metacopina Undetermined material CLASS: ISOPODA Order: Isopoda Suborder: Flabellifera Family: Cirolanidae Cirolanides texensis Benedict Suborder: Asellota Family: Asselidae Lirceolus cocytus Lewis SUPERCLASS: CHELICERATA CLASS: ARACHNIDA Order: Araneae (spiders) Infraorder: Araneomorphae Family: Nesticidae (cave spiders) Eidmannella tuckeri Cokendolpher and Reddell Order: Acarina (mites and ticks) Undetermined material amphipod was collected from this cave as well as eyeless Cicurina spiders. Daily log: 14 March 2014 : Jean Krejca, James Brown, 30 minutes, 23 feet depth. Travelled to room with roots, saw about 15 Lirceolus cocytus on one root mat. Turned dive due to hole in inflator hose. 14 March 2014 : Jean Krejca, James Brown, 53 minutes, 65 feet depth. Travelled about 1200 ft. into cave. Saw 8 Cirolanides texensis on an old (said to have been in cave about 1 year) battery canister. Saw about 15 Lirceolus cocytus on one root mat. 14 March 2014 : Had other dive team install a drift net at constriction near downstream passage.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 7 15 March 2014 : Jea n Krejca, James Brown, 80 minutes, 63 feet depth. Travelled about 1600 ft. into cave. Did photography and video, looked for amphipods and found none. 16 March 2014 : Jean Krejca pulled drift net out of downstream passage, collected some ostracod pieces fro m the drift net. New collections from this effort include known unprotected species of which more m aterial is needed for taxonomy. The list of these collections included: Sight records included one Astyanax fish, one turtle shell and one giant water bug, Belostomatidae ; images in Appendix.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 8 Discussion Biologists collected one new terrestrial invertebrate, a symphyla n, during this collecting trip, and made three new site records for the cave (one Astyanax fish, one turtle shell and one giant water bug, Belostomatidae). Material for genetic analysis of Texoreddellia was also collected and photo identification provided by James Reddell Shell fragments of an ostracod may be identifiable and ultimately lead to a new record for that taxon from this important cave. Biologists also documented water level declines of approximately one meter inside the cave. These water level declines are relevant in terms of the root mats that provide habitat for aquatic species, and for the spring species downstream. Future work should include drift net sampling in more places in the cave, over longer periods, and with a finer mesh size in order to capture whole, intact ostracods as well as adult amphipods. Future work should also include more intensive sampling of the terrestrial fauna. Jean Krejc a 2 February 2015 USFWS Permit No. TE85077A 1

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 9 L iterature Cited Veni, G 2013 Impact of climate change and human and ecological use of karst groundwater resources: a case study from the southwestern USA. Proceedings of the 20 th National Cave and Karst Management Symposium pages 51 60.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 10 Appendix. Images collected from Phantom Lake Spring Cave, by Jean Krejca Cyprinodon elegans Comanche Springs pupfish, on left, and males and females of Gambusia nobilis Pecos Gambusia, on right.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 11 Pyrgulopsis texana Phantom Springsnail

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 12 Tryonia cheatumi Phantom Tryonia.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 13 Two snails shown together for scale. Pyrgulopsis on left, Tryonia on right.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 14 Gammarus hyalleloides Diminutive Amphipod.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 15 Isopod, Cirolanides texensis

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 16 Isopo d, Lirceolus cocytus shown on rootlet where they are nearly always found.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 17 Silverfish, Texoreddellia capitesquameo Espinasa and Giribet This species is endemic to Phantom Lake Cave.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 18 Spider, Eidmannella tuckeri.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 19 Ostracod shells.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 20 Turtle shell approximately 1500 ft. into cave.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 21 Giant water bug, Belostomatidae next to Astyanax fish approximately 100 ft. into cave.

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FAUNA OBSERVATIONS A T PHANTOM LAKE CAVE, REEVES COUNTY, TEXAS 22 Overview of cave entrance with endangered fish and snails (small black dots) in algal mats in foreground.


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