Amblyopsis spelaea - DeKay, 1842
Northern Cavefish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Amblyopsis spelaea DeKay, 1842 (TSN 164395)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.1005197
Element Code: AFCLA01030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Fishes - Bony Fishes - Other Bony Fishes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Actinopterygii Percopsiformes Amblyopsidae Amblyopsis
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Help
Concept Reference: Chakrabarty P., J.A. Prejean, and M.L. Niemiller. 2014. The Hoosier cavefish, a new and endangered species (Amblyopsidae, Amblyopsis) from the caves of southern Indiana. ZooKeys 412:41?57. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.412.7245
Concept Reference Code: A14CHA01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Amblyopsis spelaea
Taxonomic Comments: Amblyopsis hoosieri is distinguished from A. spelaea based on genetic, geographic, and morphological evidence (Chakrabarty et al. 2014).
Conservation Status
Help

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 05Jul2017
Global Status Last Changed: 05Jul2017
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Restricted to subterranean waters in Kentucky (total of about 21 sites); most populations are small; habitat is highly vulnerable to alteration by human activities and natural events that affect ground water.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (04Aug2012)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Kentucky (S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable
American Fisheries Society Status: Threatened (01Aug2008)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range includes the Pennyroyal and Mitchell plateaus, from the Mammoth Cave area, central Kentucky, north to the Ohio River; populations in south-central Indiana are now considered to be a separate species, A. hoosieri (Pearson and Boston 1994, Page and Burr 2011, Chakrabarty et al. 2014). This species is not known in caves south or west of Mammoth Cave system (see map in Keith 1988).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a fairly large number of occurrences (subpopulations) and locations (as defined by IUCN).

Keith (1988) listed a total of 17 sites in Kentucky. Pearson and Boston (1995) expanded this to 38 localities. However, some of these sites had been destroyed, filled, were no longer accessible or were duplicate names for the same place. Of these 38 localities, since 1989, reliable records were available from 21 sites in Kentucky. Source: Lewis (2002).

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Population size has been estimated as at least 5,600 individuals in two states (Pearson and Boston 1995); this estimate is conservative (Pearson and Boston 1995) due to limited habitat accessibility and unknown distribution through groundwater systems. Numbers observed at single sites range between 1 and 220 (Keith 1988:71-72) or up to 515 (Pearson and Boston 1995).

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Keith (1988:75) reported: "Amblyopsis spelaea occupies a highly restricted habitat. Because it is located at or near local base level, it is vulnerable to virtually any disturbance in the watershed brought about by natural forces or human activities." Recharge area delineations identify areas that are involved with input of water into the groundwater systems. According to Aley (pers. comm., 1998), a recharge area of eight square kilometers (3 square miles) could be considered a small recharge area. While larger recharge areas may increase the opportunity for a system to be polluted, smaller systems may be more impacted by that input (Figg, pers. comm., 1998).

Threats include ground water contamination, sedimentation, alteration of surface runoff patterns, construction of impoundments, quarrying, and collecting (Keith 1988). Urbanization and suburban housing, municipal sewage treatment plants, confined animal operations, and transportation routes may threaten water quality (Aley and Aley 1997). The quantity of habitat is limited, but the quality appears to be fairly good (Pearson and Boston 1995). Competition from Typhlichthys subterraneus (Woods and Inger 1957, cited by Keith 1988:69) may have caused an introduced population to become extirpated. The habitat is vulnerable to change caused by human activities, but careful, nondestructive intrusion is not harmful.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but distribution and abundance probably are slowly declining.

Long-term Trend: Unknown
Long-term Trend Comments: Some populations have been lost (Pearson and Boston 1995), but the overall degree of decline is unknown.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Sites needing confirmation of occurrence should be revisited to collect population and biological data.

Protection Needs: Protection recommendations include: eliminate or reduce destructive land use practices, require additional sediment and runoff controls for construction projects, eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides in critical watersheds, identify and protect critical sinkholes and sinking streams, eliminate mineral development activities, encourage the growth of natural cover on watersheds and on critical sinkholes and sinking stream areas, eliminate water impoundment projects, limit access to sites (see Keith 1988 for further details).

Distribution
Help
Global Range: (5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)) Range includes the Pennyroyal and Mitchell plateaus, from the Mammoth Cave area, central Kentucky, north to the Ohio River; populations in south-central Indiana are now considered to be a separate species, A. hoosieri (Pearson and Boston 1994, Page and Burr 2011, Chakrabarty et al. 2014). This species is not known in caves south or west of Mammoth Cave system (see map in Keith 1988).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States KY

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
KY Breckinridge (21027), Edmonson (21061), Hardin (21093), Hart (21099), Meade (21163)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Upper Green (05110001)+, Rough (05110004)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Help
Basic Description: An eyeless fish that reaches a length of 11 cm.
Reproduction Comments: A branchial brooder with low reproductive capacity (Lee et al. 1980). Breeding occurs during the high water periods from February through April. Eggs and later young are carried in the gill chamber for about 4 to 5 months. Young appear in late summer after the yolk sacs are lost. Only about 10% of the adult female population breed in a single year (Poulson 1963).
Ecology Comments: Population sizes are small.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Subterranean Habitat(s): Subaquatic
Special Habitat Factors: Subterranean obligate
Habitat Comments: All of the Kentucky sites are cave streams (Keith 1988).
Food Comments: One instance of predation on an eyed fish has been reported (Lee et al. 1980).
Length: 9 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Help
Management Summary
Help
Biological Research Needs: Keith (1988:75) suggested that long-term population data should be gathered. Information regarding the reproduction is needed.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Group Name: Cavefishes

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals.
Separation Barriers: Hydrological discontinuity.
Alternate Separation Procedure: Each separate hydrological system constitutes a distinct occurrence. Use a separation distance of 3 km if habitat continuity is uncertain.
Separation Justification: Separation distance is arbitrary.
Date: 26Jun2001
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 05Jul2017
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Dirrigl, F., Jr., and G. Hammerson (2003), M. Ormes (2017)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 04Aug2012
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Aley, T., and C. Aley. 1997. Groundwater recharge area delineation, hydrobiological assessment, and vulnerability mapping of four Ozark cavefish (Amblyopsis rosae) populations in Missouri. A Report to the Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO. 115 pp. + app.

  • Chakrabarty P., J.A. Prejean, and M.L. Niemiller. 2014. The Hoosier cavefish, a new and endangered species (Amblyopsidae, Amblyopsis) from the caves of southern Indiana. ZooKeys 412:41?57. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.412.7245

  • Jelks, H. L., S. J. Walsh, N. M. Burkhead, S. Contreras-Balderas, E. Díaz-Pardo, D. A. Hendrickson, J. Lyons, N. E. Mandrak, F. McCormick, J. S. Nelson, S. P. Platania, B. A. Porter, C. B. Renaud, J. Jacobo Schmitter-Soto, E. B. Taylor, and M.L. Warren, Jr. 2008. Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes. Fisheries 33(8):372-407.

  • Keith, J. H. 1988. Distribution of northern cavefish, Amblyopsis spelaea DeKay, in Indiana and Kentucky and recommendations for its protection. Natural Areas Journal 8:69-79.

  • Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina. i-x + 854 pp.

  • Lewis, J. J. 2002. Conservation assessment for northern cavefish (Amblyopsis spelaea). USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region.

  • Nelson, J. S., E. J. Crossman, H. Espinosa-Perez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, and J. D. Williams. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 29, Bethesda, Maryland. 386 pp.

  • Ono, R.D., J.D. Williams, and A. Wagner. 1983. Vanishing Fishes of North America. Stone Wall Press, Washington, DC. 257 pp

  • Page, L. M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L. T. Findley, C. R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N. E. Mandrak, R. L. Mayden, and J. S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Seventh edition. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 432 pp.

  • Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Second edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. xix + 663 pp.

  • Pearson, W. D., and C. H. Boston, Jr. 1995. Distribution and status of the northern cavefish, Amblyopsis spelaea. Final report to Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, Indianapolis.

  • Poulson, T.L. 1963. Cave adaptation in amblyopsid fishes. The American Midland Naturalist 70(2):257-290.

  • Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society, Special Publication 20. 183 pp.

  • Starnes, W. C. 1995. Taxonomic validation for fish species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Category 2 species list. 28 pp.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • State Natural Heritage Data Centers. 1996a. Aggregated element occurrence data from all U.S. state natural heritage programs, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Navajo Nation and the District of Columbia. Science Division, The Nature Conservancy.

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2018.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2018 NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington Virginia 22203, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.