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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Class Malacostraca
Order Isopoda
Family Cirolanidae

Bahalana cardiopus Notenboom, 1981

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Bahalana cardiopus: after Notenboom, 1981

Taxonomic Characterization: Eyes absent. Body without pigment except for brown mandibular masticatory blades, spines on exopod of maxilla 1, and microscopic crystals surrounding some internal pereional organs (Carpenter, 1981). Unable to roll into a ball. Lack of armature on the endopodites of pleopods 3-5. Frontal lamina poorly developed. Mandibles asymmetrical. The exopodite of pleopod 5 is heart-shaped (Notenboom, 1981).

Disposition of Specimens: Zoological Museum Amsterdam collection numbers 105.161-2.

Ecological Classification: Stygobitic

Size: Length up to 10 mm, with the body 2.5 times as long as wide.

Number of Species in Genus: Five, all stygobitic

Genus Range:

  • Bahamas:
    • Acklins Island:
      • Duncan Pond Cave: Bahalana cardiopus Notenboom, 1981
    • Andros Island:
    • Exuma Cays:
      • Oven Rock Cave on Great Guana Cay: Bahalana exumina Botosaneanu & Iliffe, 2002
      • Basil Minn's Blue Hole on Great Exuma Island: Bahalana yagerae (Carpenter, 1994)
    • Grand Bahama Island:
      • Lucayan Cavern, Old Freetown Cave, Bahama Cement Cave, plus Janet Pyfrom's, Virgo and Sagittarius Blue Holes and Lucy's and Asgard Caves on adjacent Sweeting's Cay: Bahalana yagerae (Carpenter, 1994)
    • Mayaguana:
      • Mount Misery Cave: Bahalana cardiopus Notenboom, 1981
    • San Salvador Island:
  • Caicos Islands:

Species Range: Originally described from Mount Misery Cave, Little Bay, Mayaguana, Bahamas. Later found in Duncan Pond Cave on Acklins Island, Bahamas.

Closest Related Species: Differs only in minor details from Bahalana geracei Carpenter, 1981

Habitat: Anchialine limestone cave

Ecology: Specimens from Mount Misery Cave were collected from a muddy hole filled with water in total darkness. Tidal influence is presumed to be present. No accompanying fauna was observed (Notenboom, 1981).  Specimens from Duncan Pond Cave were from shallow pools in a dark section of the cave.

Life History: 3 females have been collected, none ovigerous.

Evolutionary Origins: The family Cirolanidae is considered the most primitive of the families of the suborder Flabellifera. It is thought that stygobitic cirolanids were stranded when high sea levels receded, either during the Cenozoic Era (55 million years ago) or during the Late Cretaceous Period (135 million years ago) (Carpenter, 1981). All five species in the genus Bahalana are found in the Bahamas archipelago.  Speciation in Bahalana was very probably a rather recent event.

Conservation Status: Restricted to one cave on Mayaguana and another on Acklins Island.


  • Bowman, T. 1987. Bahalana mayana, a new troglobitic cirolanid isopod from Cozumel Island and the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 100(3):659-663, 2 figures, 1 table.
  • Carpenter, J.H. 1981. Bahalana geracei n. gen., n. sp., a troglobitic marine cirolanid isopod from Lighthouse Cave, San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde, 51(2):259-267, 25 figures.
  • Notenboom, J. 1981. Some new hypogean cirolanid isopod crustaceans from Haiti and Mayaguana (Bahamas). Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde, 51(2):313-331, 9 figures, 2 tables.


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