Surface-Going Cave Crickets more Isolated than Cave-dwelling Cousins

A pair of Ceuthophilus crickets. (Drexel University)
A pair of Ceuthophilus crickets. (Drexel University)

Genetic research is showing that certain types of crickets that live entirely in caves (in the Southern US) are more genetically diverse than their cousins who venture to the surface to forage.

It seems like this should be the other way around, since the foraging crickets are traveling more in the caves and out of the caves.

“The main issue is that Ceuthophilus leaves the cave to forage at night, whereas Geotettix doesn’t. That led us to hypothesize that perhaps Ceuthophilus was better at dispersing and might not show as much genetic structure,” said Jason Weckstein, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science at Drexel University’s College of Arts and Science. “In fact, what we found was the Ceuthophilus showed deeper — older — structure than Geotettix.”

The crickets in the study live in a variety of caves in central Texas, from which the team collected specimens and then analyzed their DNA.

Ceuthophilus are known to be trogloxenes, meaning that they live parts of their lives in caves. Species in the Ceuthophilus sub-genus lay their eggs and spend the day in caves but come out to forage at night.

Geottetix, meanwhile, are troglobites, which means that they spend all of their lives deep in caves. The team wrote that Geotettix have almost never been recorded on the surface outside a cave entrance.

Read the full article at Drexel Now.