Cottus bairdii

Girard 1850




The fish is known by the common name of Tytoona Cave Scuplin.




The fishes from Tytoona Cave are not distinguishable from epigean Cottus bairdii and there are no types.


Known only from the location they were originally found in: Tytoona Cave, Sinking Valley, Blair County, Pennsylvania, USA (40o36’04”N, 78o13’01”W), 273masl (Espinasa, Mendyk, Schaffer and Cahill 2013). This is the third most northerly of all subterranean fishes after Barbatula undescribed species from Germany (47o50’48.48”N, 8o51’28.91”E) and Cottus bairdii-cognatus from further north in Pennsylvania (41o9’23.2”N, 77o12’21.1W).


Espinasa et al. (2013) used DNA sequences to determine the relationships of the cave sculpin: "Molecular data have been obtained for 15 individuals: 14 samples from Tytoona Cave and one from a surface specimen from the Little Juniata River. The 16S rRNA fragments with primers excluded were 575 bp long. All cave and surface specimens had identical sequences, which when compared with the available Genbank sequences, were identical to “haplotype 2” of a Cottus bairdii collected from Blockhouse Creek in central Pennsylvania (GenBank GQ280792.1) and four bp (0.7%) different from another C. bairdii of undescribed provenance (GenBank AY539018.2)."

Biological Notes

Espinasa et al. 2013 consider these fishes are cave-dwellers on the basis of: "...they were considered to be cave-adapted due to the presence of ovigerous females, a lack of evidence for starvation and primarily because the cephalic lateralis pores are significantly larger than those of similar-sized surface fish. Larger pores may correlate to an enhancement in mechanosensory ability, which would allow cavefish to thrive better in a dark environment."

Conservation Status


This assessment of Not Evaluated refers only to the cave population and not the many epigean populations of this named species.

Internet Resources

Tytoona Cave web site

Tytoona Cave Nature Preserve Management Plan

Tytoona Cave Wikipedia entry

A brief account with photographs

Key References

Patterson, N. and Stone, J. Journal Article Macroinvertebrate survey of Tytoona Cave
Stone, R.W. Journal Article 1953 Caves of Pennsylvania
Robins, C.R. Thesis 1954 A taxonomic revision of the Cottus bairdi and Cottus carolinae species group in eastern North American (Pisces, Cottidae)
Williams, J. D. and Howell, W. M. Journal Article 1979 An albino sculpin from a cave in the New River drainage of West Virginia (Pisces: Cottidae)
Troester, J.W. and White, W.B. Journal Article 1984 Seasonal fluctuations in the carbon dioxide partial pressure in a cave atmosphere
Schweyan, J. Journal Article 1986 Tytoona Cave/Arch Spring, Blair County
Burr, B.M., Warren, M.L. and Paul, R.J. Journal Article 1992 Cavernicolous sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group from Mystery Cave, Missouri
Paul, R.J., Burr, B.M. and Warren, M.L. Journal Article 1993 Cavernicolous sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group from Perry County, Missouri: Cave-life phenomena or speciation ?
Krejca, J., Burr, B.M., Warren, M.L. and Paul, R.J. Journal Article 1994 Cavernicolous sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group (Pisces, Cottidae) from Perry County, Missouri
Krejca, J.K., Burr, B.M., Paul, R.J. and Warren, M.L. Journal Article 1994 Cavernicolous sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group (Pisces: Cottidae) from Perry County, Missouri
Burr, B.M., Adams, G.L., Krejca, J., Paul, R.J. and Warren, M.L. Journal Article 2001 Troglomorphic sculpins of the Cottus carolinae species group in Perry County, Missouri: Distribution, external morphology and conservation status
McCarthy, S.C. Thesis 2001 Using dye tracers to delineate flow patterns through two karst basins: Kooken Cave, Huntingdon County and Tytoona Cave, Blair County, PA
Herman, E.K., Schwede, S.S., Warner, S.M. and White, W.B. Conference Paper 2004 Hydrogeology of the sinking valley karst and the NSS Tytoona Cave nature preserve
White, W., and White. E. Journal Article 2012 Karst of Sinking Valley and Kooken Cave, Huntingdon and Blair Counties
Espinasa, L., Mendyk, A., Schaffer, E. and Cahill, A. Journal Article 2013 The Second Northernmost Cave-adapted Fish in the World? Groundwork on the Tytoona Cave Sculpin Population
McCaffery, S., Collins, E. and Espinasa, L. Journal Article 2014 Eye histology of the Tytoona Cave Sculpin: Eye loss evolves slower than enhancement of mandibular pores in cavefish?
Baek, S.Y., Kang, J.H., Jo, S.H., Jang, J.E., Byeon, S.Y., Wang, J.H., Lee, H.G., Choi, J.K. and Lee, H.J. Journal Article 2018 Contrasting life histories contribute to divergent patterns of genetic diversity and population connectivity in freshwater sculpin fishes