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Cave scorpion (Tityopsis sheylae)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 220528770

Ecology and conservation of the local endemic cave-dwelling scorpion Tityopsis sheylae in western Cuba

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 220528770) - Cave scorpion - Awarded $5,000 on May 21, 2022

Cuba is the largest and most biodiverse island in the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot. This island has the richest scorpion fauna of the region and represents the country with more species of scorpions relative to land surface of the world (61 species, 92% endemic), only closely matched by the Baja California Peninsula (Teruel & Kovařík 2012, Armas et al. 2017, Teruel & Rodríguez-Cabrera 2020). Also, four scorpion genera occur exclusively on this island, including the genus Tityopsis (Teruel & Kovařík 2012). This genus comprises six species distributed only in the westernmost region of the main island of Cuba (Teruel & Rodríguez-Cabrera 2020). They are small scorpions (<4 cm long) that inhabit under rocks and in the leaf litter of primary forests. Since most of the species are forest dwellers and seem to be sensitive to deforestation, they can be used as indicators of habitat disturbance. However, one species in particular, Tityopsis sheylae, discovered as recent as 2020, apparently got isolated and evolved in a single cave known as “Cueva del Indio,” located about 30 km southeast of Havana city (Teruel & Rodríguez-Cabrera 2020). The conservation status of this species has not been assessed yet, but it most certainly fulfill the IUCN criteria in the category of Critically Endangered. The population in this cave seems extremely reduced in number and it is subjected to many human-induced threats. First, a road crosses right above the cave’s main entrance. Second, the cave is frequently used as a garbage by people from nearby villages. And third, people also enter the cave to extract bat guano to be used as an organic fertilizer and to hunt Cuban boas for the illegal trade. All the above represent serious threats to this species.



1. To collect baseline data on the only know population of the target species.

2. To prospect other caves and forest patches in the area in coordination with local wildlife conservation authorities in search of new subpopulations of the target species.

3. To educate the people from the nearby village and to train the staff from the nearest protected area.

4. To make an accurate assessment of its conservation status based on the data collected and following the IUCN criteria.



1. Collection of baseline data.

2. Prospecting new areas.

3. Production of educational material.

4. Training of local conservation authorities.

5. Assessment of conservation status.



Armas, L.F. de, A. Alegre Barroso, R.A. Barba Díaz, T.M. Rodríguez-Cabrera, G. Alayón García, & A. Pérez González. 2017. Arácnidos, pp. 196–223. In: C.A. Mancina & D.D. Cruz (eds.), Diversidad biológica de Cuba: métodos de inventario, monitoreo y colecciones biológicas. Sello Editorial AMA, La Habana.


Teruel, R., & F. Kovařík. 2012. Scorpions of Cuba. Prague, Clairon Productions.


Teruel, R., & T.M. Rodríguez-Cabrera. 2020. Revision of the genus Tityopsis Armas, 1974 (Scorpiones: Buthidae). Part 1. General updates and description of four new species. Euscorpius, 304: 1–40. https://mds.marshall.edu/euscorpius/vol2020/iss304/2/


Project document