OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 6, 2005(AP) After
two years of study in an isolated northeast Oklahoma cave, Jim Stout
has discovered that a rare species of grotto salamander has a diet much
different from what was expected.
Stout, the supervisor of the
Herpetarium at the Oklahoma City Zoo, has helped write a report
published by a leading scholarly journal that documents how a blind
cave-dwelling salamander eats bat droppings. The salamander was thought
to subsist on bugs and shrimp and this is the first report of a
salamander, or any amphibian, living on bat guano.
is in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological
Sciences. Dante Fenolio collaborated on the research.
bats don't fully digest their food, their guano was pretty nutritious,
and actually had more calories than the tiny shrimp," Stout said. "In
effect, by eating the bat droppings, the salamanders have cut out the
At the time of the study, Fenolio, an expert in
salamanders, was working on his master's degree at the University of
Oklahoma in Norman, Stout said.
Fenolio is now at the University of Miami, Fla., where he is working on his doctorate.
addition to Stout, Fenolio's co-authors on the journal article are G.O.
Graening, a cave biologist with the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas, and
Bret A. Collier of Texas A&M University's department of wildlife
and fisheries sciences in College Station, Texas.
Stout said the
group's original mission was a two-year population ecology study of a
federally protected cave in Delaware County.
Stout said about 15,000 grey bats live in the cave he studied.
for the bats, the cave is a pretty sterile environment, and the grotto
salamander population was larger than we thought the cave could
support," Stout said. "Things didn't add up at first."
researchers also noticed a significant drop in the grotto salamander
population when the migrating bats were not there. The bats live in the
cave from May to December.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com