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Pseudanophthalmus georgiaeGeorgian Cave Beetle
Federal Protection: No US federal protection
State Protection: No Georgia state protection
Global Rank: G1G2
State Rank: S1?
SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): No
Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 4
Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Caves
Pseudanophthalmus georgiae is a small light brown to straw yellow beetle (4.1 – 4.8 mm) with a slender form and covered in small pubescent hairs. This beetle also possesses multiple larger bristle like hairs, along with transverse microsculpturing on elytra (1,2).
P. georgiae is classified within the alabamae species group of Pseudanophthalmus. P. georgiae is distinguished from other species in the group with its the more angular humeri and aedeagal characters. Species within the alabamae group are overall the same slender form and length (4.0 – 4.8 mm). The species of the alabamae group differ from other species in the genus with the apex of the aedeagus strongly deflexed and slightly knobbed, along with the apical groove of the elytron distinctly subparallel to suture. The alabamae group’s range is northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama Species within the genus Pseudanophthalmus have reduced eyes or completely absent eyes (2).
All Pseudanophthalmus species are cave dwellers and are typically collected by water sources within the caves, including small cave streams, water drips, mud banks, and other moist and riparian areas (1). Pseudanophthalmus adults are often found on or underneath small rocks in moist areas of caves (5).
Pseudanophthalmus beetles are predators and primarily consume aquatic tubificid worms (1).
One study of six Tennessee species of Pseudanophthalmus recorded collection of adults in both summer in winter months (5). Consistent year-round temperatures in caves may allow for year-round activity of P. georgiae, however; further surveys are needed to determine activity period of each life stage.
Additional surveys of caves in northwestern Georgia are needed.
P. georgiae has a restricted distribution, only reported in a small number of caves in Walker County in northwest Georgia. P. georgiae was originally collected in Blowing Spring cave, Pettijohn Cave, and Mt. Cove Farm Cave all in Walker County, Georgia (2). This beetle has also been collected in Ellisons Cave (3) and possibly Four Kings Cave also in Walker County.
Possible threats to other rare species of Pseudanophthalmus are thought to be the destruction of habitat from the deposit of sediment associated with construction and livestock, pollution of ground water, and effects of human visits and alterations to caves (5). Considering the similarities in the habitat of Pseudanophthalmus species these threats may also apply to P. georgiae, however future surveys are needed.
The last confirmed collection of P. georgiae was in a 1995 survey of eight northwestern Georgia caves. These beetles seem to have an extremely restricted range and are endemic to northwestern Georgia (1,2,4).
Conservation efforts should focus on maintaining habitats in caves with known populations and further surveys of surrounding caves.
Barr Jr, Thomas C. "Observations on the ecology of caves." The American Naturalist 101.922 (1967): 475-491.
Barr, T. C. (1981). Pseudenophthalmia from Appalachian Caves (Coleoptera, Carabidae): The Engelhardti Complex.
Buhlmann, K. A. (2001). A biological inventory of eight caves in northwestern Georgia with conservation implications. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 63(3), 91-98.
Niemiller, M. L., Fenolio, D. B., & Zigler, K. S. (2012). The obligate cave fauna of Georgia. Bulletin of the Georgia Speleological Survey, 2012, 6-12.
Niemiller, M. L., Zigler, K. S., Ober, K. A., Carter, E. T., Engel, A. S., Moni, G., ... & Stephen, C. D. (2017). Rediscovery and conservation status of six short‐range endemic Pseudanophthalmus cave beetles (Carabidae: Trechini). Insect Conservation and Diversity, 10(6), 495-501.
May 8, 2020