Student Research Pages - Life in a Cave - Part 2

Cover-Cave Creatures
Harvestman Spider

A harvestman, or "Daddy longlegs," isn't really a spider, but people often call it one. Some types are trogloxenes, others are troglophiles; and still other types are troglobites.

Life in a Cave - Part 2

All the animals that live in caves fit into three main categories:

Trogloxenes - "Cave visitors"

MUST COME AND GO from the cave

  • These animals are part-time cave dwellers but must leave to find food.
  • Examples: Bats, raccoons, skunks, snakes, bears, harvestmen

Troglophiles "Cave lovers"

Mexican Free-tailed Bat

This Mexican free-tailed bat is a trogloxene -- a "cave visitor." It must leave the cave each night to find the insects it eats.

CAN COME AND GO from the cave

  • These animals can live all the time in a cave but may also live outside. May leave to find food or may have enough food in the cave to survive.
  • Examples: Earthworms, beetles, crickets, frogs, cave crickets, some types of harvestmen ("Daddy longlegs")

Troglobites "Cave dwellers"

MUST STAY in the Cave

 

Texas Blind Salamander

Notice how this Texas blind salamander isn't just blind - it has NO EYES! That's because it has no need for them. Texas blind salamanders are endangered.

  • These animals can only live deep underground in caves and have special adaptations.
  • Examples: Endangered Texas blind salamanders, cave beetle, cave spiders, some types of harvestmen.

ENDANGERED TEXAS CAVE SPECIES

Chances are you've never seen these Texas animals because they live deep in the darkest parts of caves where most humans don't visit. But, these critters still play an important role in nature so we need to do what we can so they don't become extinct!

Remember learning about food webs? Food webs are like the links in a necklace...all animals that live in a certain place are connected to each other somehow. If one of those animals goes missing, it's like a link in the chain getting lost. If too many pieces of the chain get lost the necklace won’t be able to stay together anymore.

If one of the animals in the dark zone goes extinct, that's like one of the links in your necklace getting lost. And chances are there is some other animal in the dark zone that somehow depends on it for its own survival...is connected to it for its own survival.

When one animal goes extinct, then one link from the food web is gone. That can spell trouble for the other animals still left in the cave. Yiker dikers!

    Want to see something REALLY awesome?

    Click here http://news.illinois.edu/slideshows/cave/ to watch a slideshow called "The Hidden Life of Caves" created by biologist Steven Taylor.

    Bone Cave Harvestman

    Bone cave harvestman (Photo © William R. Elliott)

    Cave Mold Beetle

    Kretchmarr cave mold beetle. (Photo © William R. Elliott)

    Cave Ground Beetle

    Tooth cave ground beetle (Photo used under Creative Commons)

    Tooth Cave Pseudoscorpion

    Tooth cave pseudoscorpion (Photo used under Creative Commons)

     

    <== Life in a Cave, Part 1 | Answers to Spike's Activity Page ==>


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