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Mictocaris halope

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA ARTHROPODA MALACOSTRACA MICTACEA MICTOCARIDIDAE

Scientific Name: Mictocaris halope
Species Authority: Bowman & Iliffe, 1985
Taxonomic Notes: The simultaneous discovery of two new species of small crustaceans, one for Bermuda caves and the other from the deep sea in the tropical Atlantic prompted the erection of new peracarid order Mictacea by Bowman et al. (1985). Subsequent discoveries of additional related species resulted in a proposal to retain the Bermuda species in Micatacea, while placing all other species in the order Bochusacea (Gutu 2001).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii,iv)+2ab(iii,iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-10-02
Assessor(s): Iliffe, T.M.
Reviewer(s): Gerlach, J.
Justification:
Mictocaris halope qualifies for Critically Endangered status since it has an extent of occurrence (EOO) of 10 km2, an area of occupancy (AOO) of 1 km2 and occurs only in restricted sections of five caves, which represent a single location, where water is more hydrologically isolated from direct communication with the open sea. These caves are subject to adverse environmental pressures resulting from cesspit sewage pollution, rock quarries, and tourism.
History:
1996 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known only from fully marine waters at depth in Green Bay, Walsingham, Roadside and Wilkinson Quarry Caves in Hamilton Parish and Tucker's Town Cave in St. George’s Parish, Bermuda.
Countries:
Native:
Bermuda
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Mictocaris halope is known only from the deeper waters of five anchialine caves in Hamilton and St. George’s Parishes, Bermuda.  The relative inaccessibility and difficulty of sampling underwater caves, as well as the subterranean microhabitat (network of interstitial spaces or mesocaverns) often interconnected with the caves (macrocaverns), makes it almost impossible to estimate population sizes or trends with certain confidence. Mictocaris halope is relatively common (~5-10 or more specimens observed per cave dive) but only in restricted sections of the caves where water is more hydrologically isolated from direct communication with the open sea. The ability of this species to disperse between suitable habitats within one cave or adjacent caves in unknown.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Mictocaris halope is a blind and unpigmented stygobitic species observed swimming in open water within the caves. It is typically found only in deeper, fully marine waters in those parts of the cave that are relatively more remote from connection with the open sea and therefore where waters tend to have a longer residence time within the cave. No information is available on life history, reproduction, or nutrition, while few observations of behavior have been made.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Mictocaris halope is known only from five anchialine caves in Hamilton and St. George’s Parishes, Bermuda. One of these caves, Wilkinson Quarry Cave, is situated in the middle of an active limestone quarry and only intervention by the Bermuda Department of Conservation Services saved the cave from being demolished (Iliffe 2004).  Even so, quarrying activities and blasting are ongoing in the area immediately surrounding this cave. Green Bay and Tuckers Town Caves are located under residential areas where waste water and sewage disposal is primarily through cesspits potentially contributing to contamination of the underlying groundwater. Two sections of the Walsingham Cave System are used as commercial tourist operations and tourists have been routinely observed to throw coins, mostly copper pennies, into the salt water cave pools where they rapidly corrode and release toxic copper ions into the water. No data are available to confirm how these activities are affecting the population size.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Bermuda Government’s Department of Conservation Services is currently in the process of officially declared Bermuda’s caves as “critical habitat” under the Protected Species Act 2003. Bermuda’s caves are afforded protection from development under Section 28 of the Planning Act 1974 (Fourth Schedule). A cave fauna recovery plan (Glasspool 2011) is also in the process of being enacted.  The Recovery Plan will attempt to:
  1. Protect the cave habitat through legislation and raised public awareness.
  2. Undertake a comprehensive mapping initiative of the Islands’ cave systems and integrate maps into the GIS framework.
  3. Identify point sources of pollution and implement the necessary procedures to manage these so that they do not exceed species tolerance levels. If necessary, explore and implement alternative technologies for sewage disposal where required.
  4. Establish long-term monitoring of both the air and water in the cave systems, taking consideration of physical, chemical, geological and biological indicators.
  5. Evaluate the potential for ex-situ/hatchery breeding of representative cave species and conduct experiments to determine their tolerance to known contaminants of the cave system. 
  6. Facilitate ongoing research to gain a better understanding of the population status, distribution, movements, breeding and feeding habits of the cave species and the hydrography of the cave system.
  7. Undertake active restoration of suitable, impacted caves.

Citation: Iliffe, T.M. 2014. Mictocaris halope. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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