Content tagged with "cave wildlife"

Missouri Bats

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This 2000 Missouri Conservationist article covers the natural history of Missouri's bat and the Department's efforts to conserve them. More

Missouri Cave Life

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A dark, bleak habitat gives rise to some peculiar inhabitants. More

Ozark Cavefish

Image of an Ozark cavefish
Amblyopsis rosae
This small, colorless, blind fish lives its entire life in springs, cave streams and underground waters. It has been declared Endangered in our state and as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. More

Pink Planarian

Photo of a pink planarian on a rock.
The pink planarian (Macrocotyla glandulosa) is a species of turbellarian (free-living flatworm) found only in Devil’s Icebox Cave in Boone County, Missouri, and nowhere else in the world. It was first discovered in 1955. When biologists take surveys of pink planarian populations, they typically find only 1 or 2 dozen at a time—it’s not the entire population, but over time, these counts allow biologists to recognize population rises and declines. More

Pink Planarian

Photo of a pink planarian with posterior end somewhat curled.
Like many other cave-dwelling animals (troglobites), the pink planarian lacks the ability to sense light. No flatworm has true eyes, but light-sensitive eyespots allow the flatworm species that live outside of caves to avoid light and move to the dark. Planarians are one of the simplest groups of animals to have a brain and a nervous system. More

Pink Planarian

Photo of a pink planarian on a grayish rock, head at bottom of picture.
Pink planarians live in Devil’s Icebox Cave at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in Boone County. The water in that cave system comes from a surrounding landscape of about 13 square miles. That landscape includes farmland, homes, businesses, highways, and roads, and the potential of a devastating pollution event is rather high. More

Pink Planarian

Photo of a pink planarian with a ruler showing its length is about 2 cm.
Biologists take regular censuses of pink planaria and other organisms within the Devil’s Icebox Cave. Changes in the populations of these indicator species usually indicate a change in the environment. When populations of planaria decline, it usually signifies a reduction in environmental quality. Because the planarian is a predator, sometimes its populations drop when the populations of its prey (isopods and amphipods) drop — again, usually as a result of pollution. More

Pink Planarian

Photo of a pink planarian on a rock.
Wondering about the pink planarian’s anatomy? The rectangular end (at upper left) is the head, and the whitish part at that end is the brain. The whitish spot in the center of the body is the feeding apparatus: The planarian curls around an amphipod or isopod and sucks the juices out of it. The fringelike pinkish structures that run the length of the body, just inside the translucent edges, are the sexual glands (ovaries and testes) of this hermaphroditic animal. More

Pink Planarian

Photo of a pink planarian curled on a black rock.
Pink planarians adhere to the bottoms of rocks under water. If the spaces between the rocks become clogged with dirt, their habitat is harmed. Excessive silt can come from a variety of sources within the 13 square miles of land that drains an average of 709,000 gallons daily through the cave. Protecting the pink planarian now means that people will be able to study them in the future. More

Plants and Animals

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"Plants and Animals" for the April 2007 Missouri Conservationist. More