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Discovery of new cave millipedes casts light on Arizona cave ecology

ophores (packets of sperm) to the females during reproduction.

For the north rim species, Voyles explained that the discovery will result in the two caves becoming listed as 'significant' under the Federal Cave Resource Protection Act of 1988.

Voyles indicates there are a lot more exciting discoveries to be made. "With 170 known caves [on the BLM Arizona Strip lands], there is no doubt that there is more to find. The research we have conducted here is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg," he said.

He added that this also means more work for resource managers, who will now have to pay much closer attention to the use and conservation of these caves and their biological attributes.

Neil Cobb, curator of the Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity in the Department of Biological Sciences at NAU, said, "Caves are extreme habitats that have received far too little attention. The arthropods that can survive these dark and resource-poor environments can tell us a lot about what makes them so successful as a group."

While conducting ecological inventories of 30 caves on the Colorado Plateau of northern Arizona, research by Wynne and Voyles has resulted in the discovery of at least 10 new species, including a new species of spider, a new genus of cave cricket (Family Rhaphidophoridae), possibly two new cricket species, a new barklouse (Psocoptera) species, a new beetle species, and possibly two new springtail species (Collembola). With many of the collected specimens still awaiting identification by taxonomists, the researchers believe additional species discoveries are likely.

The new millipede genus will be named in honor of NAU ecologist, John Prather, who died last year.

Wynne, also an associate curator with the Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity, is also developing methods for detecting caves using thermal remote sensing imagery. Once procedures are developed, these techni
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Source:Northern Arizona University


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