Bulletin of the National Speleological Society - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 34 Number 2: 55-59 - April 1972

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Bat Guano Ecosystems
Thomas L. Poulson


Bat guano ecosystems should be preserved as models for the study of communities. They are like other temperate zone cave communities in being simple in structure with few enough species to allow complete study. The differ in being more variable and rigorous in time and space, both as regards food and microclimate. Some also show sharp microzonation and seasonal succession. The large seasonal food pulse when bats return to activity each year may favor a few opportunistic species with high reproductive rates. The variable microclimate may result in wide physiological tolerance. There should be two strategies for feeding: (1) a narrow food niche in sedentary species with seasonal resting stages and a very high reproductive rate; and (2) a wide food niche in mobile species that can find alternate food when the bats leave seasonally. These predictions can be tested by comparing species biology, ecology, and diversity in seasonal vs. non-seasonal bat guano ecosystem, bat vs. cricket guano ecosystems, and cricket guano vs. detrital ecosystems.

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