Conservation Status: Endangered.
This very small fresh water crustacean resembling a tiny shrimp measures only one centimeter in length. The diet of these crustaceans consists mainly of decaying leaves and other organic debris from the woods around them. They spend most of their life underground, deep in small crevasses and cracks of small freshwater springs. Because they spend their lives in darkness, these amphipods are blind and lack pigment, and “accustomed to being left alone, they’re extremely sensitive to disturbance.”
Nearly all of the District’s original springs have long disappeared due to diversion of rain water, direct piping into sewers, being filled in and paved over with concrete, and any few that exist contaminated trickles. (https://www.fws.gov/endangered/bulletin/2002/01-02/08-09.pdf)
Consequently, the entire known distribution of this species is now confined to a few springs along Rock Creek. Habitat fragmentation, urban development, and water pollution are the main drivers endangering the Hay’s spring amphipod. This species which is endemic to the capital city was listed as Endangered under the ESA in 1982 and its population has not yet recovered.