The Mexican blindcat (Prietella phreatophila) is a rare subterranean catfish known from twelve sites in Coahuila, Mexico. Members of our team recently documented a population in Val Verde County, Texas, marking the first US occurrence of this species. This project seeks to determine the distribution, ecology, and conservation status of this species by conducting fieldwork in the US and Mexico. San Antonio Zoo maintains the only captive colony of this species and efforts are underway to establish husbandry protocols and establish a breeding population in captivity. Surveys for suitable habitat are underway at Amistad National Recreation Area and at sites along the Devil’s River. Fieldwork in Mexico includes revisiting known sites and documenting new sites via cave and spring surveys as well as eDNA. This project recently received a small grant from the National Park Service and a USFWS Section 6 grant to conduct surveys in Texas and Coahuila. Although project partners have been investigating this species for 20 years, this project formally began in 2016.
Project Partners: National Park Service, University of Texas at Austin Biodiversity Collections, and Zara Environmental LLC.