Cozumel's cave sea star (Copidaster cavernicola)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 200523736
Conservation status of two micro-endemic echinoderm species inhabiting a subterranean estuary in Cozumel, Mexico
The overall objective of the proposed study is to assess the conservation status of the microendemic echinoderms Copidaster cavernicola and Ophionereis commutabilis using the IUCN criteria. The objective will be accomplished by:
A) Assessing the geographic range of C. cavernicola and O. commutabilis at their known distribution range and adjacent underwater caves using non-invasive techniques.
- A.1) Direct observations. A biologist with cave diving training will perform visual surveys to confirm the presence of C. cavernicola and O. commutabilis at their known locality, and to search for organisms at near locations with similar environmental conditions.
- A.2) Indirect observations. Water samples will be collected and analyzed with eDNA techniques in order to identify if C. cavernicola and O. commutabilis inhabited areas where direct observations have not been made.
B) Provide the current population size and decline estimates of C. cavernicola and O. commutabilis. Census data prior to the mortality event in 2016 will be compared to determine how affected both species are, and estimate their current population size.
Project 200523736 location - Mexico, North America