Kretschmarr Cave Mold Beetle
Kretschmarr Cave Mold Beetle
|Listed||September 16, 1988|
|Family||Pselaphidae (Mold beetle)|
|Description||Dark, short-winged, eyeless beetle with elongated legs.|
|Reproduction||Not specifically known, but likely has a complex life cycle of egg, several larval stages, pupa, and adult.|
The tiny Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle, Texamaurops reddelli, is less than 0.15 in (3 mm) in length. Eyeless, its reddish-brown body is sparsely and weakly dotted with small pits; it has short wings and elongated legs. According to James Reddell, who first collected this beetle in 1963, it is the most highly cave-adapted species of its family in Texas and among the more unusual species of cave-dwelling beetles in the United States.
It is believed that this species is omnivorous but depends on fungus for the bulk of its diet. Little is known about its reproductive biology.
The mold beetle inhabits four small, dry, and shallow caves that occur as isolated islands in the Edwards Limestone formation. The largest cave has about 200 ft (61 m) of passage; the other three are much smaller.
This species is an example of the highly localized fauna of the caves in the Edwards Limestone formation, Texas. It occurs nowhere else.
This mold beetle is known from Kretschmarr, Amber, Tooth, and Coffin Caves in Travis and Williamson counties. Recent attempts to locate Coffin Cave have been unsuccessful because residential development in the area has destroyed landmarks and collapsed or concealed the entrance. The size of the Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle population is not known.
The four caves that this species inhabits are close to a road leading to residential and industrial areas. Without safeguards, these caves could collapse or become filled. Any alteration of drainage affects the species as it is dependent on groundwater. The relative accessibility of the shallow caves leaves them especially vulnerable to invasion by introduced invertebrate predators or competitors such as sow-bugs, cockroaches, and fire ants.
Conservation and Recovery
The Krestschmarr Cave mold beetle has a Recovery Priority rating of 1C, a Fish and Wildlife Service designation indicating a high degree of threat, but also a high potential for recovery. Conservation of this species requires that its cave habitat be protected from residential development and other threatening activities. It is especially necessary to protect the access sites to the caves, as well as the local watershed from which its groundwater flow originates. Such protection requires the acquisition of private land supporting the access points and watershed and designation of the areas as an ecological reserve, or the negotiation of conservation easements with the landowners. Management must include the control of incompatible practices that could degrade the cave habitat, such as infilling, and activities that carry a risk of causing spills of pesticides, hydrocarbons, nutrients, or other toxic or degrading chemicals. The populations of the Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle should be monitored in its known habitats, and research undertaken into its little-known biology and habitat needs.
Barr, T. C., and H. R. Steeves, Jr. 1963. " Texamaurops, A New Genus of Pselaphids from Caves in Central Texas (Coleoptera: Pselaphidae)." The Coleopterists' Bulletin 17:117-120.
Mitchell, R. W. 1968. "Food and Feeding Habits of the Troglobitic Carabid Beetle Rhadine subterranean. " International Journal of Speleology 3:249-270.
Reddell, J. R. 1984. "Report on the Caves and CaveFauna of the Parke, Travis County, Texas." Unpublished Report to the Texas System of Natural Laboratories.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1988. "Determination of Five Texas Cave Invertebrates to Be Endangered Species." Federal Register 53: 36029-36033.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. "Recovery Plan for Endangered Karst Invertebrates in Travis and William Counties, Texas." U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.