Countries of Occurrence:
Portugal - Azores
Facilitators / Compilers/s:
Thalassophilus azoricus is an endemic cave adapted species occurring in a single island, S. Miguel (Azores, Portugal). It has a very small extent of occurrence (EOO = 8 km²) and reduced area of occupancy (AOO = 8 km²). The species is very rare and only known from a single natural population occurring in the coastal lava-tube Gruta da Água de Pau. A continuing decline in the number of mature individuals is inferred from the ongoing cave habitat degradation, We suggest as future measure of conservation the regular monitoring of the species (every ten years) and the creation of a fence in the entrance of the cave. The species is assessed as Critically Endangered based on the single location and current and future possible cave degradation.
Thalassophilus azoricus is an endemic species from a single island, S. Miguel (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010), and known from a single lava-tube cave, Gruta da Água de Pau (Oromí and Borges 1991). The extent of occurrence (EOO) is 8 km² and the maximum estimated area of occupancy (AOO) is 8 km².
The species is very rare and only known from a single subpopulation. A continuing decline in the number of mature individuals is inferred from the ongoing cave habitat degradation due to pasture cattle pollution.
This species occurs in a volcanic cave (a lava tube only 15 m above the sea level and covered by some 70 m of overburden) in the S. Miguel island (Gruta de Água de Pau) (Oromí and Borges 1991). It is a cavernicolous (i.e. a Troglobitic species) predator.
The main threats to this species are: i) residential and commercial development in coastal areas; ii) cave visitation by tourists and coastal recreational activities; iii) agriculture activities with cattle pollution; iv) creation of roads or coastal tracks; v) domestic water management; and vi) future Climate Change impacts on coastal habitats.(Ferreira et al.2016).
The species is protected by regional law (RAA 2008, 2012). Its habitat is in a regionally protected area (Natural Park of S. Miguel). Additional research is needed in order to know levels of population size as well as its ecology and life history. It is also necessary a monitoring plan for the invertebrate community in the habitat in order to contribute to the conservation of this species. We suggest as future measure of conservation the creation of a fence in the entrance of the cave. A habitat management plan is needed and anticipated to be developed during the coming years.