Study Finds Microwhip Cave Scorpions Prefer to Eat Cyanobacteria

Posted on August 10, 2015

Microwhip scorpion

Scientists have been studying small cave invertebrates to determine what they eat. The researchers doubted cave invertebrates would feed on just anything they could find in the dark caves. They found that several small cave creatures do prefer certain types of food. A microwhip scorpion is pictured above and a woodlice found in the caves is pictured below.

The research was led by Dr. Jaroslav Smrz from Charles University, Vinicna. His international team of researchers studied invertebrates living in Slovakian and Romania caves. The study included microanatomical research into the gut content of microwhip scorpions, oribatid mites, millipedes, springtails and crustaceans.

Despite the fact that there is a limited amount of food available in the caves the researchers discovered that there is a low level of competition among its inhabitants. The gut contents were found to be nearly identical among the representatives of each group. Microwhip scorpions showed a preference for cyanobacteria, a type of bacteria that uses photosynthesis. The millipedes favored eating fungi and the mites ate bacteria found in bat guano.

The researchers say in a release, "The limited food offer seems to be used very unambiguously and thoroughly by the invertebrate communities. Therefore, the competition for food can be actually regarded as very low."

A research paper on the study can be found here in the journal, Subterranean Biology.

Mesoniscus graniger woodlice


Photo: Prof. Jaroslav Smrv