Onychiuridae - Tullbergia iowensis
Size: 0.45 mm
Group Guild Status
Eutroglophile Fungivore Uncommon?
Collembola (springtails) are primary consumers that feed on bacteria, fine organic materials and micro-fungi (Culver and Pipan 2009), and in this capacity they are important in the acceleration of successional fungal decomposition of organic materials (Klironomos et al. 1992).
This eyeless, de-pigmented species occurs primarily in soils, caves, and on the ground surface where it feeds among cryptobiotic crusts (Brantley and Shepherd 2004). The species ranges widely throughout much of North America, the Caribbean and south as far as Brazil, and also occurs in Europe (Bolger 1986; Culik and Zeppelini-Filho 2003; Palacios-Vargas 1997). The species is recorded from caves in Arkansas (Christiansen and Bellinger 1998), Georgia (Reeves et al. 2000), Iowa (Peck and Christiansen 1988), Cuba (Díaz Aspiaszu et al. 2003), and Nova Scotia, where it was associated with a guano deposit of the North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatus; Calder and Bleakney 1965).
The single record of T. iowensis that we have from Kartchner Caverns was taken from a piece of partially buried wood in the floor of the Jackrabbit Gallery area near the Jackrabbit Shaft on May 7, 2011. We suspect this was a piece of debris remaining from the caverns commercial development. Because of the wide distribution of this species, and its presence in caves, it is difficult to assess the origin of this species in the cave. The species may be more common than our single record indicates, and additional sampling of collembola (in general) in the cave is needed. The species may have eluded detection during the initial study, or we believe more likely, that it is an introduction to the cave, probably from the commercial construction period. A surface survey of soil arthropods would help sort out which collembola species may have been present in the Park prior to the development phase of the caverns. This is a new record for the cave.
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