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Enviroscan Ukrainian Institute of Speleology and Karstology

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Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 04 Jul, 2018
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

New publications on hypogene speleogenesis

Klimchouk on 26 Mar, 2012
Dear Colleagues, This is to draw your attention to several recent publications added to KarstBase, relevant to hypogenic karst/speleogenesis: Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications Galdenzi,

The deepest terrestrial animal

Klimchouk on 23 Feb, 2012
A recent publication of Spanish researchers describes the biology of Krubera Cave, including the deepest terrestrial animal ever found: Jordana, Rafael; Baquero, Enrique; Reboleira, Sofía and Sendra, Alberto. ...

Caves - landscapes without light

akop on 05 Feb, 2012
Exhibition dedicated to caves is taking place in the Vienna Natural History Museum   The exhibition at the Natural History Museum presents the surprising variety of caves and cave formations such as stalactites and various crystals. ...

Did you know?

That habitat is the immediate surroundings (living place) of a plant or animal; everything necessary to life in a particular location except the organism itself [23].?

Checkout all 2699 terms in the KarstBase Glossary of Karst and Cave Terms

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What is Karstbase?



Browse Speleogenesis Issues:

KarstBase a bibliography database in karst and cave science.

Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
See all featured articles
Featured articles from other Geoscience Journals
Karst environment, Culver D.C.
Mushroom Speleothems: Stromatolites That Formed in the Absence of Phototrophs, Bontognali, Tomaso R.R.; D’Angeli Ilenia M.; Tisato, Nicola; Vasconcelos, Crisogono; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Gonzales, Esteban R. G.; De Waele, Jo
Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
Microbial mediation of complex subterranean mineral structures, Tirato, Nicola; Torriano, Stefano F.F;, Monteux, Sylvain; Sauro, Francesco; De Waele, Jo; Lavagna, Maria Luisa; D’Angeli, Ilenia Maria; Chailloux, Daniel; Renda, Michel; Eglinton, Timothy I.; Bontognali, Tomaso Renzo Rezio
Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria), Briestensky, Milos; Rowberry, Matt; Stemberk, Josef; Stefanov, Petar; Vozar, Jozef; Sebela, Stanka; Petro, Lubomir; Bella, Pavel; Gaal, Ludovit; Ormukov, Cholponbek;
See all featured articles from other geoscience journals

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Your search for habitats (Keyword) returned 122 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 106 to 120 of 122
Fifty Years of the Hypotelminorheic: What Have We Learned?, 2012,
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Pipan Tanja, Fier Cene, Novak Tone, Culver David C.


Originally described by Meštrov in 1962, hypotelminorheic habitats are superficial subterranean drainages, typically less than a meter or so in depth, that emerge at small seepage springs. These are persistent wet spots, typically with blackened leaves in small depressions. There may be no flow during dry periods, but the underlying clay retains water above. They share the landscape with other small bodies of water (močila in Slovenian), not necessarily connected with groundwater. Hypotelminorheic habitats (mezišča in Slovenian) usually harbor a fauna dominated by species adapted to subterranean life, characteristically without eyes or pigment. The basic chemistry and hydrology of the habitat is described as are the basic faunal elements. The habitat is placed in a more general context by reviewing how species invade the habitat, their morphology, and their possible connection to deeper subterranean habitats.

Monitoring of microbial indicator groups in caves through the use of RIDACOUNT kits, 2012,
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Mulec Janez Kritů, Fek Vclav, Chroň, kov Alica


RIDA®COUNT kitsMeasurements of microbiological parameters are not currently widely used for protection, monitoring and preservation of caves although they indicate very well the recent human impact. Here we present a commercially available microbiological kit for cave ecologists, the RIDA®COUNT test kit (R-Biopharm AG, Germany), as a supplementary tool for research and show examples. Simultaneously, lists of microbial indicator groups and cave microhabitats, where this methodology may be applied, are presented. Indicators include certain clinically important human-associated microbes such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp. and Staphylococcus aureus that are easy to quantify with basic cultivation methodology. Relatively higher bacterial counts compared to yeast and moulds on RIDA®COUNT test plates indicate recent and pronounced human impact. Swab samples allow detection of gradients of surface microbial colonization and determination of the microbial load on footprints and fingerprints in caves. In our tests, RIDA®COUNT plates for enumeration of yeast and moulds revealed a similar microbial load between unwashed caving boots and human fingerprints on a metal fence. Similarly, total bacterial counts were comparable between these two surfaces, 5,890 CFU/100 cm2 for unwashed boots and 4,340 CFU/100 cm2 for fingerprints on metal fence. Bacterial counts on walking surfaces in show caves can exceed 10,000 CFU/100 cm2 (Postojna Cave). These examples show that quantification of microbial indicator groups revealed increased microbial load and possible biohazard in the underground. This procedure may be widely adopted as a part of a regular monitoring programme in caves.

A holistic approach to groundwater protection and ecosystem services in karst terrains, 2012,
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Goldscheider, Nico

A holistic conceptual approach to groundwater and natural resources protection, surface and subsurface biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in karst terrains is presented. Karst landscapes and aquifers consist of carbonate rock in which a part of the fractures has been enlarged by chemical dissolution. They are characterised by unique geomorphological and hydrogeological features, such as rapid infiltration of rainwater, lack of surface waters, and turbulent flow in a network of fractures, conduits and caves. Karst terrains contain valuable but vulnerable resources, such as water, soil and vegetation, and they provide a great variety of habitats to many species, both at the surface and underground, including many rare and endemic species. Karst systems deliver various ecosystem services and act as natural sinks for carbon dioxide (CO2) thus helping to mitigate climate change. It is demonstrated that all these resources and ecosystem services cannot be considered in an isolated way but are intensely interconnected. Because of these complex feedback mechanisms, impacts on isolated elements of the karst ecosystem can have unexpected impacts on other elements or even on the entire ecosystem. Therefore, the protection of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services in karst requires a holistic approach.

A world review of fungi, yeasts, and slime molds in caves, 2013,
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Vanderwolf K. , Malloch D. , Mcalpine D. F. , Forbes G. J.

We provide a review of fungi, yeasts, and slime molds that have been found in natural solution caves and mines worldwide. Such habitats provide frequent roost sites for bats, and in eastern North America the environmental conditions that support white-nose syndrome, a lethal fungal disease currently devastating bat populations. A list of 1029 species of fungi, slime moulds, and yeasts in 518 genera have been documented from caves and mines worldwide in 225 articles. Ascomycota dominate the cave environment. Most research has been conducted in temperate climates, especially in Europe. A mean of 17.9±24.4SD fungal species are reported per study. Questions remain about the origin and ecological roles of fungi in caves, and which, if any, are cave-specialists. In the northern hemisphere, caves are generally characterized by relatively stable, low temperatures and a lack of organic substrates. This environment favors communities of oligotrophic, psychrotolerant fungi. Data that may help explain how cave environmental features and faunas inf luence the introduction and transmission of cave fungi remains scant.

Ostracod Assemblages in the Frasassi Caves and Adjacent Sulfidic Spring and Sentino River in the Northeastern Apennines of Italy, 2013,
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Peterson D. E. , Finger K. L. , Iepure S. , Mariani S. , Montanari A. , Namiotko T.

Rich, diverse assemblages comprising a total (live + dead) of twenty-one ostracod species belonging to fifteen genera were recovered from phreatic waters of the hypogenic Frasassi Cave system and the adjacent Frasassi sulfidic spring and Sentino River in the Marche region of the northeastern Apennines of Italy. Specimens were recovered from ten sites, eight of which were in the phreatic waters of the cave system and sampled at different times of the year over a period of five years. Approximately 6900 specimens were recovered, the vast majority of which were disarticulated valves; live ostracods were also collected. The most abundant species in the sulfidic spring and Sentino River were Prionocypris zenkeri, Herpetocypris chevreuxi, and Cypridopsis vidua, while the phreatic waters of the cave system were dominated by two putatively new stygobitic species of Mixtacandona and Pseudolimnocythere and a species that was also abundant in the sulfidic spring, Fabaeformiscandona ex gr. F. fabaeformis.
Pseudocandona ex gr. P. eremita, likely another new stygobitic species, is recorded for
the first time in Italy. The relatively high diversity of the ostracod assemblages at Frasassi
could be attributed to the heterogeneity of groundwater and associated habitats or to
niche partitioning promoted by the creation of a chemoautotrophic ecosystem based on
sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Other possible factors are the geologic age and hydrologic
conditions of the cave and karst aquifer system that possibly originated in the early–
middle Pleistocene when topographic uplift and incision enabled deep sulfidic waters to
reach the local carbonate aquifer. Flooding or active migration would have introduced
the invertebrates that now inhabit the Frasassi Cave system

Colonization of subterranean habitats by spiders in Central Europe, 2013,
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Rů, ič, Ka V. , milauer P. , Mlejnek R.

Using data from the Czech Republic, we studied the distribution of spiders in soils, crevice systems, scree and caves, i.e. subterranean habitats at depths spanning from 10 cm to 100 m. In total, we found 161 species. The number of species declines with increasing habitat depth, with a major drop in species richness at the depth of 10 meters. Thirteen species exhibit morphological adaptations to life in subterranean habitats. At depths greater than 10 meters, spider assemblages are almost exclusively composed of troglomorphic species. We propose a hypothesis of evolution of troglomorphisms at spiders during Quaternary climatic cycles.

Comparative microbial community composition from secondary carbonate (moonmilk) deposits: implications for the Cansiliella servadeii cave hygropetric food web, 2013,
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Summers Engel A. , Paoletti M. G. , Beggio M. , Dorigo L. , Pamio A. , Gomiero T. , Furlan C. , Brilli M. , Leandro Dreon A. , Bertoni R. , Squartini A.

The microbial diversity of moonmilk, a hydrated calcium carbonate speleothem, was evaluated from two Italian caves to provide context for the food web of highly-specialized troglobitic beetles, Cansiliella spp. (Leptodirinae), with distinctive carbon and nitrogen isotope values indicative of a novel food source. The moonmilk and associated percolating waters had low to no extractable chlorophyll, with an average organic C:N ratio of 9, indicating limited allochthonous input and a significant contribution from microbial biomass. The biomass from moonmilk was estimated to be ~104 micro- and meiofaunal individuals per m2 and ~107 microbial cells/ml. Proteobacteria dominated the 16S rRNA gene sequences retrieved from the moonmilk from both caves. The distribution of other proteobacterial classes and phyla in the moonmilk were statistically similar to each other, even though the two caves are geographically separated from each other. Comparing the moonmilk gene sequences to sequences from previously described environmental clones or cultured strains revealed the uniqueness of the moonmilk habitat, as ~15% of all of the moonmilk sequences were more closely related to each other than to sequences retrieved from any other habitat. However, comparative analyses confirmed that as much as ~34% of the clones sequences were also closely related to environmental clones and cultured strains derived from soil and freshwater habitats, which is likely due to the fact that the putative inoculation source for the moonmilk bacterial communities is from overlying soil and percolating fluids from the surface. Prior to our studies of Cansiliella spp., moonmilk has not been considered a food source for cave animals. Our findings provide unique insight into moonmilk microbial diversity that could reveal the underpinnings of the moonmilk carbon and nitrogen cycle that influences the isotopic composition and the morphological adaptations of the troglobitic beetles associated with the moonmilk.

Epilithic and aerophilic diatoms in the artificial environment of Kungstradgrden metro station, Stockholm, Sweden, 2013,
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Norback Ivarsson L. , Ivarsson M. , Lundberg J. , Sallstedt T. , Rydin C.


The Kungsträdgården metro station is an artificial and urban subsurface environment illuminated with artificial light. Its ecosystem is almost completely unknown and as a first step to better understand the biology and rock wall habitats the diatom flora was investigated. A total of 12 species were found growing on the rock walls of Kungsträdgården metro station. The results show the diatom flora in Kungsträdgården to be dominated by e.g. Diadesmis contenta, Diadesmis perpusilla, Pinnularia appendiculata, Nitzschia amphibia, Nitzschia sinuata and Diploneis ovalis. One species, Caloneis cf. aerophila, has never been reported from Sweden before. Significant differences in the species composition between the sampling sites indicate Kungsträdgården metro station to be a heterogeneous habitat that provides different microhabitats.

Detritus processing in lentic cave habitats in the neotropics, 2013,
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Marconi Souza Silva, Rafaelly Karina Sales Rezende, Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira

Lentic cave habitatsare almost always heterotrophic habitats where there are food and oxygen input from the surface. This hydrological exchange seems to be the key factor shaping most groundwater communities. Litter processing in cave water environments has not been experimentally studied as much as it has in lotic subterranean systems, although detritus is likely a critical resource for organisms inhabiting shallow groundwater habitats. The present study sought to evaluate the processing rates and the nitrogen and phosphorous dynamics in plant debris deposited in lentic habitats of two Neotropical limestone caves during 99 days. 84–10×10 cm2 litterbags with mesh sizes of 0.04 mm2 and 9 mm2 were used. In each weighed litter bag, 50 green, intact plant leaf disks (± 2.0 gr/bag) were conditioned. At the end of the experiment, the average weight loss was only 17.4%. No macroinvertebrates were found associated to the debris, but significant differences in the processing rate in relation to the cave and mesh size were observed. The weight loss rate of the plant debris was considered slow (average 0.003 K-day). The amount of nitrogen and remaining phosphorous in the plant debris in the two caves showed variations over time with a tendency to increase probably due to the development of microorganisms which assimilate nitrogen and phosphorus. The slow processing rate of the plant debris can be due mainly to the fact that these lentic cave habitats are restrictive to colonization by shredder invertebrates. Furthermore, the abrasive force of the water, which plays an important role in the processing and availability of fragmented debris for colonization by microorganisms, is absent.

Rana iberica (Boulenger, 1879) goes underground: subterranean habitat usage and new insights on natural history, 2013,
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Gonalo M. Rosa, Andreia Penado

Reports of amphibians exploiting subterranean habitats are common, with salamanders being the most frequent and studied inhabitants. Anurans can occasionally be observed in caves and other subterranean habitats, but in contrast to salamanders, breeding had never been reported in a cave or similar subterranean habitat in Western Europe. Based on observations during visits to a drainage gallery in Serra da Estrela, Portugal, from May 2010 to December 2012, here we document: (i) first report of Rana iberica reproduction in cave-like habitat, representing the fourth report of an anuran for the Palearctic ecozone; (ii) oophagic habits of the tadpoles of Ranaiberica; and (iii) Salamandra salamandra predation on Rana iberica larvae. These observations, particularly of Rana iberica, highlight our lack of knowledge of subterranean ecosystems in the Iberian Peninsula.

Aquatic biota of different karst habitats in epigean and subterranean systems of Central Brazil visibility versus relevance of taxa, 2013,
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Luiza Bertelli Simes, Tnia Cristina Dos Santos Ferreira, Maria Elina Bichuette

The karstic area of São Domingos, central Brazil, holds extensive drainage systems. In order to understand its biodiversity, various volumes of water were filtered with planktonic nets in stretches of subterranean and superficial rivers on five different occasions. We sampled four drips (152L), three calcite pools (368L), two subterranean rivers fed mainly by percolation water (6, 395L), two subterranean rivers fed mainly by water coming from a sinkhole (4, 175L) along different caves, one resurgence (158L), and four epigean rivers (101, 690L). Physical and chemical variables were measured at some sites. Canonical Correlation Analysis was used to verify relationships between taxa and environment. The degree of similarity of the biota was assessed by cluster analysis (Sorensen, single linkage). There were records of exclusive taxa in epigean and subterranean samples, mainly in drips, which harbour the most unique fauna. The high richness of taxa presently recorded reveals the potential of the vadose zone biota in the tropical region, which was neglected in studies on Brazilian subterranean biodiversity. According to our results, the unsaturated zone tropical fauna may have different composition compared to that from temperate habitats. The studied communities were dominated by rotifers, while crustacean are predominant in the latter. The hypothesis can be clarified with the increase of long term studies and taxa identification at species level, besides the use of complementary sampling methods.

Organic matter flux in the epikarst of the Dorvan karst, France, 2013,
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Simon, Kevin S.

Availability of organic matter plays an important role in karst ecosystems. Somewhat surprisingly, study of the composition and distribution of organic matter in karst aquifers is rare. The most comprehensive study or organic matter flux to date is a two year continuous monitoring of detritus and animal flux in epikarst drip waters and an epikarst-fed cave stream in the Dorvan karst, France. Analysis of those data reveals high temporal variation in detritus and animal flux in both habitats, but little evidence of seasonality in flux. water flux explained 30-69% of the variation in animal flux in both habitats and detritus flux in the epikarst seepage water. Detritus flux in the cave stream was better explained by peak monthly discharge. Lack of coherence between organic matter flux in epikarst seepage and the epikarst stream suggests organic matter transport is governed by differing factors in the two habitats. Overall, much of the particulate organic matter flux in the epikarst occurs as living animals suggesting a dominant role of ecological processes in organic matter transport.

Environmental controls on organic matter production and transport across surface-subsurface and geochemical boundaries in the Edwards aquifer, Texas, USA, 2013,
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Hutchins Benjamin T. , Schwartz Benjamin F. , Engel Annette S.

Karst aquifer phreatic zones are energy limited habitats supported by organic matter (OM) flow across physical and geochemical boundaries. Photosynthetic OM enters the Edwards Aquifer of Central Texas via streams sinking along its northeastern border. The southeastern boundary is marked by a rapid transition between oxygenated freshwaters and anoxic saline waters where OM is likely produced by chemolithoautotrophic microbes. Spatial and temporal heterogeneity in OM composition at these boundaries was investigated using isotopic and geochemical analyses. δ13C values for stream fine particulate OM (FPOM) (−33.34‰ to −11.47‰) decreased during regional drought between fall 2010 and spring 2012 (p<0.001), and were positively related to FPOM C:N ratios (r2 =0.47, p<0.001), possibly due to an increasing contribution of periphyton. Along the freshwater-saline water interface (FwSwI), δ 13CFPOM values (−7.23‰ to −58.18‰) correlated to δ13C values for dissolved inorganic carbon (δ13C DIC) (−0.55‰ to −7.91‰) (r2 =0.33, p=0.005) and were depleted relative to δ13C DIC values by 28.44‰, similar to fractionation values attributed to chemolithoautotrophic carbon fixation pathways using DIC as the substrate. δ13CFPOM values also became enriched through time (p<0.001), and δ13C DIC values (r2 =0.43, p<0.001) and δ13CFPOM values (r2 =0.35, p=0.004) at FwSwI sites increased with distance along the southwest-northeast flowpath of the aquifer. Spatial variability in FwSwI δ13C DIC values is likely due to variable sources of acidity driving carbonate dissolution, and the temporal relationship is explained by changes to recharge and aquifer level that affected transport of chemolithoautotrophic OM across the FwSwI.

Diatom flora in subterranean ecosystems: a review., 2014,
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In scarcity of light and primary producers, subterranean ecosystems are generally extremely oligotrophic habitats, receiving poor supplies of degradable organic matter from the surface. Human direct impacts on cave ecosystems mainly derive from intensive tourism and recreational caving, causing important alterations to the whole subterranean environment. In particular, artificial lighting systems in show caves support the growth of autotrophic organisms (the so-called lampenflora), mainly composed of cyanobacteria, diatoms, chlorophytes, mosses and ferns producing exocellular polymeric substances (EPSs) made of polysaccharides, proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. This anionic EPSs matrix mediates to the intercellular communications and participates to the chemical exchanges with the substratum, inducing the adsorption of cations and dissolved organic molecules from the cave formations (speleothems). Coupled with the metabolic activities of heterotrophic microorganisms colonising such layer (biofilm), this phenomenon may lead to the corrosion of the mineral surfaces. In this review, we investigate the formation of biofilms, especially of diatom-dominated ones, as a consequence of artificial lighting and its impacts on speleothems. Whenever light reaches the subterranean habitat (both artificially and naturally) a relative high number of species of diatoms may indeed colonise it. Cave entrances, artificially illuminated walls and speleothems inside the cave are generally the preferred substrates. This review focuses on the diatom flora colonising subterranean habitats, summarizing the information contained in all the scientific papers published from 1900 up to date. In this review we provide a complete checklist of the diatom taxa recorded in subterranean habitats, including a total of 363 taxa, belonging to 82 genera. The most frequent and abundant species recorded in caves and other low light subterranean habitats are generally aerophilic and cosmopolitan. These are, in order of frequency: Hantzschia amphioxys, Diadesmis contenta, Orthoseira roeseana, Luticola nivalis, Pinnularia borealis, Diadesmis biceps and Luticola mutica. Due to the peculiarity of the subterranean habitats, the record of rare or new species is relatively common. The most important environmental factors driving species composition and morphological modifications observed in subterranean populations are analysed throughout the text and tables. In addition, suggestions to prevent and remove the corrosive biofilms in view of an environmentally sustainable cave management are discussed.

Cold tolerance in terrestrial invertebrates inhabiting subterranean habitats., 2014,
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Most organisms are able to survive shorter or longer exposure to sub-zero temperatures. Hypothetically, trogloxenes characterized as not adapted, and troglophiles as not completely adapted to thermally stable subterranean environment, have retained or partially retained their ability to withstand freezing, while most troglobionts have not. We tested this hypothesis experimentally on 37 species inhabiting caves in Slovenia, analyzing their lower lethal temperatures in summer and winter, or for one season, if the species was not present in caves during both seasons. Specimens were exposed for 12 hrs to 1°C-stepwise descending temperatures with 48 hr breaks. In general, the resistance to freezing was in agreement with the hypothesis, decreasing from trogloxenes over troglophiles to troglobionts. However, weak resistance was preserved in nearly all troglobionts, which responded in two ways. One group, withstanding freezing to a limited degree, and increasing freezing tolerance in winter, belong to the troglobionts inhabiting the superficial subterranean habitats. The other group, which equally withstand freezing in summer and winter, inhabit deep subterranean or other thermally buffered subterranean habitats. Data on cold resistance can thus serve as an efficient additional measure of adaptation to particular hypogean environments.

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