Geophagy in Caves

True troglobites are rarely associated with guano but little information is available regarding their food sources. At least two cockroach species appear geophagous. Roth (1988) found clay in the guts of five nymphs of Nocticola australiensis, and suggested that Neotrogloblattella chap-mani subsists on the same diet (Roth, 1980). The latter is confined to remote passages away from guano beds. Clays and silts in caves contain organic material, protists, ne-matodes, and numerous bacteria that can serve as food for cavernicoles. Chemoautotrophic bacteria may be particularly important in that they are able to synthesize vitamins (Vandel, 1965). Cave clay is a source of nutrition in a number of cave animals, including amphipods, beetles, and salamanders (Barr, 1968). One species of Ony-chiurus (Collembola) survived over 2 yr on cave clay alone (Christiansen, 1970).

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