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Eurycea sosorum

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AMPHIBIA CAUDATA PLETHODONTIDAE

Scientific Name: Eurycea sosorum
Species Authority: Chippindale, Price and Hillis, 1993
Common Name/s:
English Barton Springs Salamander

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D1+2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor/s: Geoffrey Hammerson, Paul Chippindale
Reviewer/s: Global Amphibian Assessment Coordinating Team (Simon Stuart, Janice Chanson, Neil Cox and Bruce Young)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable because its population size is estimated to be less than 1,000 mature individuals, and it is known from only a single location.
History:
1996 Not Evaluated

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species can be found in Barton Springs, Edwards Aquifer, Austin, and Travis County, Texas, USA; it occurs in four hydrologically connected spring outlets (see Chippindale et al. [1993] for further details). Barton Springs is fed by the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer; this segment occurs in portions of Blanco, Hays, and Travis counties.
Countries:
Native:
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The total population size is unknown. The observable population in Eliza Pool was dozens or hundreds in the 1970s, 15 in November 1992, 0 from December 1993 to May 1995, 0-28 between June 1995 and July 1996. They were reportedly abundant in Barton Springs Pool in 1946, about 150 were seen in November 1992, and survey counts between April 1995 and April 1996 ranged from 3-45 individuals. No more than 20 have been observed during any one survey of the Sunken Garden Springs outlet, but this site is difficult to survey. See population updates by Chippindale and Price (2005). They declined during the 1970s and 1980s, probably due in part to cleaning procedures used by the City of Austin at Barton Springs Pool; new maintenance procedures at Barton Springs resulted in habitat recovery (e.g., re-establishment of vascular plants) and salamander population increases in the early 1990s, although the number of individuals located has been highly variable from year to year and the most recent data suggest a decline in numbers in 2000. The current population trend is unknown.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is a spring dweller, occurring in the fourth largest spring in Texas. It inhabits spring outlets impounded/retained by concrete structures. Evidently, this species occurs primarily in non-subterranean waters; they are unlikely to range extensively underground but can live in subterranean waters (Chippindale et al. 1993). They are usually found under rocks or in gravel in about 0.1-5m of water; it also takes refuge among aquatic vascular plants, vegetative debris, and algae when such habitat is available (Chippindale et al. 1993). Spring habitat flows throughout the year and maintains a fairly constant temperature of 20 degrees celsius. This species is completely aquatic and does not metamorphose. Breeding is unknown in the wild; some other spring-dwelling species of central Texas Eurycea are thought to deposit eggs in gravel substrate. Captive breeding has been achieved at the Dallas Aquarium and the City of Austin facility. Females appear to deposit the eggs randomly on cobble, gravel, aquatic macrophytes, and the glass sides and bottom of the aquaria (L. Ables, D. Chamberlain pers. comm.).
Systems: Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is vulnerable to extinction due to its very limited distribution within a sensitive habitat; the primary threat is contamination of the waters that feed Barton Springs. The Barton springs Aquifer has been designated by the Texas Water Commission as one of the aquifers most vulnerable to pollution in Texas (Chippindale et al. 1993). Excessive groundwater withdrawal is a potential threat. Under pool maintenance procedures in place as of 1992, human use of the Barton Springs Pool for swimming did not conflict with the continued existence of the salamander (Chippindale et al. 1993). Recreational swimming in the Barton Springs Pool does not pose a threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Barton Springs is in Zilker Park, which is owned and operated by the City of Austin. City property is managed as a park and pool. Various agencies of the state of Texas have committed to expedite developing and implementing conservation measures needed for the species and the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer, as set forth in the "Barton Springs Salamander Conservation Agreement and Strategy," signed 13 August 1996 (see Federal Register 61(172):46608-46616, 4 September 1996, for details). The City of Austin has established a captive breeding program for this species. This species is listed as Endangered by both the state of Texas and the Federal Government.
Citation: Geoffrey Hammerson, Paul Chippindale 2004. Eurycea sosorum. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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