Squirrel Chimney Cave Shrimp Distribution Map

Squirrel Chimney Cave Shrimp: Palaemonetes cummingi

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Family: Palaemonidae
Genus/Species: Palaemonetes cummingi
Common Name: Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp

Listing Status

Federal Status: Threatened
FL Status: Federally-designated Threatened
FNAI Ranks: G1/S1 (Critically Imperiled)
IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)

Physical Description

The Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp is almost completely colorless, with a slight touch of white, and can reach a length of up to 1.3 inches (3.3 centimeters). The body is translucent making its internal organs visible through the exoskeleton. This species also has six dorsal side “teeth” on its rostrum (dorsal extension of the exoskeleton beyond the eyes) (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).

Life History

Information is extremely limited on the Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp, including what they eat and how they reproduce. A female was recorded as having 35 embryos in the month of July, with hatching occurred 29 days later. Recently hatched larvae are only slightly larger than other surface species in the cave system (Franz 1994).

Habitat and Distribution

Squirrel Chimney Cave Shrimp Distribution MapThe Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp is endemic to the Squirrel Chimney sinkhole near Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, and has not been found anywhere else.


The Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp has not been recorded since 1973, which raises fears that it may be extinct (Doonan 2001). The main threat to the Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp is that it is limited to only one sinkhole, which makes the species vulnerable to extinction in the event of a drastic change to the sinkhole’s ecosystem. Degrading ground water quality is also a threat to the cave shrimp. Ground water quality can be degraded by pesticide use, storm water drainage, and septic tank discharge. This is especially a problem presently because the human population of Gainesville has significantly increased in past years (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, n.d.). The redeye chub fish (Notropis harperi) has invaded Squirrel Chimney, and could threaten the cave shrimp by increased predation (Doonan 2001).

Conservation and Management

The Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp is protected as a Threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and as a Federally-designated Threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.  It was determined that no Federal recovery plan for this species was warranted because it is known only from a single, privately-owned location, and a recovery plan would not further its conservation (USFWS 2008).

Other Informative Links

Florida Natural Areas Inventory
International Union for Conservation of Nature
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service North Florida Ecological Services Office



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Doonan, T.J.  2001.  Survey of Squirrel Chimney and other selected caves to determine the status of the Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp (Paleomonetes cummingi).  Final performance report July 1994-June 1996.  September 2001.  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee, FL.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of  Florida.

Franz, R. 1994. Endangered: Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp. Pp. 181-182 in Deyrup, M. and R. Franz (eds.). Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume IV. Invertebrates.       University Press of Florida.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  2008.  Squirrel Chimney cave shrimp (Paleomonetes cummingi)  5-year  review: summary and evaluation.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office, Jacksonville, FL.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (n.d.).  Squirrel Chimney Cave shrimp (Palaemoetes cummingi).Retrieved May 24, 2011, from North Florida Ecological Services Office:      2005.htm

Image Credit FWC

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