Empire Pseudoscorpion
Microreagris imperialis
Text by Mark Oatney

Status
A very rare, federally-listed Species of Concern. Only found in Empire Cave on UCSC property.

Habitat
Cave floors

Prey
Hunts on ground-dwelling cave fauna.


Photo © J. Ledford

Threats
• Uncontrolled access:
Use by vandals and partiers are the greatest single threat to the pseudoscorpion. Bonfires, smoke poisoning, pollution, vandalism of cave structures, and graffiti have wreaked havoc on the cave’s fauna. The cave has been gated before, but almost immediately the gates were broken into. The ladder later installed by the University into the cave has made access to the caves easier for the people most threatening to this endangered species.

Photo © 2002 Mark Oatney
• Water Runoff:
UCSC dumps storm runoff directly into cave systems, a practice which is illegal in most states. UCSC has no storm drains— all runoff from the ever-increasing cleared and developed land on campus runs either down or through the landscape on which it is built. This dramatically-increased water flow almost certainly affects the fauna of the cave floor, including the pseudoscorpion and its prey species. This runoff water from campus is also heavily polluted with aromatic hydrocarbons which further poison the cave food web.



Conservation

Campus growth needs to come to a halt until runoff issues have been properly addressed.
Access by vandals needs to be curtailed. Law enforcement against activities which threaten the pseudoscorpion are inadequate and need to become a priority for both campus and park law enforcement agencies.

For more information please visit: www.caves.org/grotto/sfbc/projects/empire.html