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n Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie - Die karst-ekologie van die Bakwenagrot (Gauteng) : oorspronklike navorsing

Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0254-3486
  • E-ISSN: 2222-4173

Abstract

Die Bakwenagrot huisves 'n verskeidenheid organismes wat 'n ingewikkelde en verweefde voedselweb vorm. 'n Kolonie Natalse langvingervlermuise gebruik hierdie grot regdeur die jaar as blyplek. Die vlermuisguano en dooie plantmateriaal wat van buite in die grot inval, vorm die basis van die ekologie in die grot wat ook as 'n tipiese detritus-gedrewe ekostelsel beskryf kan word. Afbrekers soos bakterieë en swamme wat vir die afbraak van die guano en plantreste verantwoordelik is, word deur 'n verskeidenheid organismes, insluitend nematode en myte, as voedselbron benut. Hierdie organismes wat die volgende trofiese vlak vorm, word deur predatoriese artropode as voedselbron benut. Die Bakwenagrot is een van die weinige dolomietiese grotte in Suid-Afrika wat dit vir 'n mens moontlik maak om tot by die grondwatervlak te kom. Die grondwater huisves verskeie tipes organismes waaronder bakterieë, swamme en diere - hoofsaaklik nematode en krustaseë. Die Bakwenagrot is ook die hoofvindplek waar varswater-amfipode in Suider-Afrika gevind is. Hierdie besondere en sensitiewe ekostelsel is hoofsaaklik van guano van die vlermuiskolonie afhanklik. Die grasveld in die gebied rondom die grot, wat as voedingsarea vir die vlermuiskolonie dien, word tans deur voorstedelike ontwikkeling en die gevolglike habitatfragmentasie en -vernietiging bedreig. Indien die vlermuise die grot sou verlaat, sal dit 'n hele domino-effek van uitsterwing van die grotbewonende organismes tot gevolg hê.


The Bakwena Cave houses a variety of organisms that form an intricate and interdependent food web. This cave is utilised as a permanent roost by a colony of Natal clinging bats. The bat guano and allochthonous plant material that fall into the cave from outside, form the basis of the ecology inside the cave which may be considered a typical example of a detritus ecosystem. Decomposers such as bacteria and fungi are responsible for the decay of the guano and plant detritus which, in turn, are utilised by several organisms, including nematodes and mites, as food source. These animals form the next trophic level which is utilised by predatory arthropods as food source. The Bakwena Cave is one of the few dolomitic caves in South Africa that provide access to the water table. The groundwater houses several types of organisms, including bacteria, fungi and animals - primarily nematodes and crustaceans. The Bakwena Cave is also the type locality for freshwater amphipods in Southern Africa. This unique and sensitive ecosystem is primarily dependent on bat guano. The grassland surrounding the cave is utilised by the bats as foraging area and is currently threatened by urban development and the resulting habitat fragmentation and destruction. A cascade of extinctions of the cave-dwelling organisms will follow if the bats abandon the cave.

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/content/aknat/31/1/EJC124645
2012-01-01
2019-08-26

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