Cave invertebrate communities are dependent upon exogenous energy sources because their environment generally lacks primary producers. In small caves of central Texas, endemic terrestrial cave invertebrates often rely in part on the energy brought into caves by cave crickets (Ceuthophilus spp.), which forage above ground at night and roost in caves during the daytime. Knowledge of cave cricket foraging range is needed to effectively protect invertebrate communities that include federally endangered species. We marked approximately 2000 C. secretus emerging from Big Red Cave (Coryell County, Texas) with UV bright paint and located 291 previously marked crickets over 17 nights. Crickets foraged up to 105 m from the cave entrance and were present in relatively uniform densities out to 80 m. While 51.1% of the crickets were found within 40 m, 8.1% were found at 80 m or beyond. Relocated crickets were predominantly found in grasses (30.7%), leaf litter (22.4%) and herbaceous vegetation (20.4%) and were found close to ground level (mean = 0.49 cm). Our results show that C. secretus can forage at much greater distances than previously reported. The new data from our study should assist in the development of effective preserve design and management strategies for caves with endangered species in central Texas.
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