Conservation status assessment of the endangered Mexican Blindcat, Prietella phreatophila
Discovery of the Mexican blindcat, Prietella phreatophila, in Texas in 2016 generated interest in the species, which had previously only been known from Mexico but is listed as a foreign endangered species in the US. Consequently, an effort was undertaken to conduct a conservation status assessment of the fish using standardized methods developed by NatureServe. These assessments aim to determine the extinction risk of species and produce conservation ranks, which can be used to inform listing statuses and policy decisions and to determine conservation priorities. The rank is determined by assessing factors in three main categories: rarity, threats, and trends. Here we used three rarity and one threat factor in the NatureServe rank calculator to determine the global conservation rank of P. phreatophila. Known occurrences were compiled, and the online tool GeoCAT (geospatial conservation assessment tool) was used to determine range extent and area of occupancy. Number of occurrences (e.g., populations) was estimated based on the spatial distribution of observations and their proximity to one another. Threat comprised scope, which was assessed in ArcGIS by intersecting the total area covered by a given threat with the known occurrence area of P. phreatophila, and severity, which was estimated based on expert opinion. The resulting conservation rank was G2 (globally imperiled; roughly equivalent to IUCN’s Vulnerable rank); however, complete data were not available for any factor thus motivating the need for further study. When new data are available, the rank can be easily updated with this new information using the rank calculator.