Cooperatove Conservation Project

Alabama Cave Shrimp

Partners Protect Delicate Cave Habitat

Location: Southeastern Region: Alabama

Project Summary: A diverse array of stakeholders rallies to protect a cave-dwelling endangered species smaller than a U.S. penny.
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The tiny Alabama cave shrimp is smaller than a U.S. penny. (Photo by Dave Dieter)
Resource Challenge
The Alabama Cave Shrimp is a tiny creature that is nearly transparent  and less than an inch long. It lives in flooded underground caverns and pools in caves, where it eats small bits of organic matter. The  cave shrimp is found in just two cave systems in Madison County,  Alabama, one of which is within the boundaries of the U.S. Army’s  Redstone Arsenal. It was Federally-listed as an endangered species in 1988. The main threats to its survival are a low reproduction rate and groundwater contamination.
The Redstone Arsenal’s environmental office has worked closely with other Federal, state and local authorities, scientists, local educators,  homeowners, and the surrounding community to protect Alabama  cave shrimp populations on the Army installation and on private  lands, as well as potential habitat for populations that might yet be discovered.
Relatively little is known about the shrimp’s biology and habitat  needs, making it difficult to prepare a survival and recovery plan. To  fill the information gap, the U.S. Department of Defense, USDI Fish  and Wildlife Service (FWS), the State of Alabama, local governments,  academia, and the scientific/professional community have surveyed several hundred potential cave habitats and are monitoring cave shrimp populations and water quality on Redstone.  
Examples of Key Partners
Local landowners, U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal, FWS, City of Madison, Alabama; Redstone Arsenal Environmental Office, City  of Huntsville, Alabama; Geological Survey of Alabama, National  Speleological Society, and the University of Alabama.  
Results and Accomplishments
  • Protecting Alabama cave shrimp habitat on and off the installation.
  • Discovered the second known population of Alabama cave shrimp in Herring, Braselton, and Glover caves (considered one cave system) in 1993.
  • Completed hydrologic modeling for Bobcat Cave and the Herring, Braselton and Glover Caves systems to determine where groundwater in the caves originates.
  • Assisted in the formation of the Flint River Conservation Association, which has been very active in protecting water quality in the Flint River Watershed where the Herring-Glover  Brazelton cave system is located.
  • Assisted in the formation of the Keel Mountain Homeowners  Association, which is actively protecting water quality in the groundwater recharge area for Herring, Braselton and Glover caves.
  • Helped found the annual Madison County Drinking Water Festival. Thousands of Madison County fourth graders gather at the University of Alabama in Huntsville to learn about  protecting area groundwater from pollution.

Redstone Arsenalís willingness to forge alliances with Federal and State agencies to develop much needed information about the federally-endangered Alabama cave shrimp

Project Contact
Daniel J. Dunn
Cultural and Natural Resources Branch Chief
Environmental Management Division, Redstone Arsenal. U.S. Army



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