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      Distribution and conservation status of Speleonycta ozarkensis (Insecta, Zygentoma, Nicoletiidae) from caves of the Ozark Highlands of Arkansas and Oklahoma, USA

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      Subterranean Biology

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          The “thysanuran” (Zygentoma: Nicoletiidae) Speleonycta ozarkensis is the only troglobiotic nicoletiid from the Ozark Highlands. It was originally described with only four specimens from four different cave systems in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The scarcity of available specimens has made it difficult to determine whether morphological variation among populations represents intraspecific or interspecific variation. We examined molecular (16S rRNA) variation among populations and found no evidence that they represent a species complex. Because of its limited distribution and lack of ecological and life history data, S. ozarkensis may be a species of conservation concern. We therefore conducted a conservation status assessment. We bioinventoried 44 caves in Arkansas and Oklahoma to determine the distribution of S. ozarkensis. A new locality in Adair Co., Oklahoma, was discovered and new specimens were collected to better assess morphological variation among populations. Data on ecology and life history was gathered. We determined the conservation status of the species and identified potential threats to existing populations. Despite being known from a few localities, S. ozarkensis has a broad distribution approaching 10,000 km2. Molecular data suggest S. ozarkensis is capable of considerable dispersal and is primarily an epikarstic species, perhaps explaining why it has been infrequently collected from caves. Conservation assessments revealed that S. ozarkensis is at a slight risk of extinction. We identified seven threats impacting populations that vary in scope and severity, but only recreational caving (three caves) and development associated with urbanization (one cave) have the greatest potential to immediately impact populations.

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          A standard lexicon for biodiversity conservation: unified classifications of threats and actions.

          An essential foundation of any science is a standard lexicon. Any given conservation project can be described in terms of the biodiversity targets, direct threats, contributing factors at the project site, and the conservation actions that the project team is employing to change the situation. These common elements can be linked in a causal chain, which represents a theory of change about how the conservation actions are intended to bring about desired project outcomes. If project teams want to describe and share their work and learn from one another, they need a standard and precise lexicon to specifically describe each node along this chain. To date, there have been several independent efforts to develop standard classifications for the direct threats that affect biodiversity and the conservation actions required to counteract these threats. Recognizing that it is far more effective to have only one accepted global scheme, we merged these separate efforts into unified classifications of threats and actions, which we present here. Each classification is a hierarchical listing of terms and associated definitions. The classifications are comprehensive and exclusive at the upper levels of the hierarchy, expandable at the lower levels, and simple, consistent, and scalable at all levels. We tested these classifications by applying them post hoc to 1191 threatened bird species and 737 conservation projects. Almost all threats and actions could be assigned to the new classification systems, save for some cases lacking detailed information. Furthermore, the new classification systems provided an improved way of analyzing and comparing information across projects when compared with earlier systems. We believe that widespread adoption of these classifications will help practitioners more systematically identify threats and appropriate actions, managers to more efficiently set priorities and allocate resources, and most important, facilitate cross-project learning and the development of a systematic science of conservation.
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            Patterns of Cave Biodiversity and Endemism in the Appalachians and Interior Plateau of Tennessee, USA

            Using species distribution data, we developed a georeferenced database of troglobionts (cave-obligate species) in Tennessee to examine spatial patterns of species richness and endemism, including >2000 records for 200 described species. Forty aquatic troglobionts (stygobionts) and 160 terrestrial troglobionts are known from caves in Tennessee, the latter having the greatest diversity of any state in the United States. Endemism was high, with 25% of terrestrial troglobionts (40 species) and 20% of stygobionts (eight species) known from just a single cave and nearly two-thirds of all troglobionts (130 species) known from five or fewer caves. Species richness and endemism were greatest in the Interior Plateau (IP) and Southwestern Appalachians (SWA) ecoregions, which were twice as diverse as the Ridge and Valley (RV). Troglobiont species assemblages were most similar between the IP and SWA, which shared 59 species, whereas the RV cave fauna was largely distinct. We identified a hotspot of cave biodiversity with a center along the escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau in south-central Tennessee defined by both species richness and endemism that is contiguous with a previously defined hotspot in northeastern Alabama. Nearly half (91 species) of Tennessee’s troglobiont diversity occurs in this region where several cave systems contain ten or more troglobionts, including one with 23 species. In addition, we identified distinct troglobiont communities across the state. These communities corresponded to hydrological boundaries and likely reflect past or current connectivity between subterranean habitats within and barriers between hydrological basins. Although diverse, Tennessee’s subterranean fauna remains poorly studied and many additional species await discovery and description. We identified several undersampled regions and outlined conservation and management priorities to improve our knowledge and aid in protection of the subterranean biodiversity in Tennessee.
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              Doomed before they are described? The need for conservation assessments of cryptic species complexes using an amblyopsid cavefish (Amblyopsidae: Typhlichthys) as a case study

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Subterranean Biology
                SB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2615
                1768-1448
                September 24 2014
                September 24 2014
                : 14
                : 51-62
                Article
                10.3897/subtbiol.14.8275
                © 2014
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