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Cavernicole diversity and ecology in Tasmania

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Clarke, Arthur Kenneth (2006) Cavernicole diversity and ecology in Tasmania. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The five cave zone regions, ten macro-habitats and 44 micro-habitats for invertebrate
species recorded from caves in two adjoining karst areas of southern Tasmania (Hastings
and Ida Bay) are described. The information for these two karst areas is a sub-set of the
7,861 cave or karst area invertebrate occurrence records listed in six relationally linked
tables together with 309 database queries or tabulations (contained in a Microsoft Access
database) that documents collections and observations of 1,292 species from 749
occurrence sites in karst and non-karst cave areas of Tasmania. The cave related data and
its content including a comprehensive micro-habitat site analysis and species taxonomy
detail in a relational database is unique, making it the only cave fauna database of its kind
in the world.
The database provides a historical account dating back to the early 1840s when glowworms
were first reported from caves in Tasmania; these are recorded along with accounts
of the first cave spider and cave beetle species described in Australia. Together with
anecdotal accounts from some of the early entomologists and naturalists who studied
Tasmania's cave fauna, the significant role of modem day cave biologists is commended
along with their contributions that have vastly expanded our knowledge base. The history
of the study of cave biology is discussed, together with the development of cave fauna
related ecological terms and theories or explanations for the colonisation of caves and
evolution of troglomorphic characters in aquatic and terrestrial hypogean obligates.
Following a brief introduction of geomorphic processes, the term "karst bio-space" is
introduced to encompass the total living space for all hypogean species in the saturated or
unsaturated karst and karst-like cavities, crevices and voids including caves. The concept of
cave ecology is expanded to describe the five cave zone regions, ten macro-habitats and the
44 micro-habitats deployed in the detailed analysis of habitat data for species in the
Hastings and Ida Bay karst areas. A comprehensive explanation of the database fields is
provided, along with guidelines for operating the database and constructing queries to
answer questions related to the diversity and ecology of Tasmanian cave species. Incorporating the most up to date and current taxonomy for cave species in Tasmania, this
thesis provides a detailed overview of the diversity of the most common groups of cave
dwelling invertebrates and the first records of new species not previously recorded in the
speleological or cave biology literature. The major species groups discussed include glowworms,
cave crickets, land snails, springtails, multipedes (centipedes, millipedes,
symphylans, pauropods and onychophorans), aquatic and terrestrial amphipods and
isopods, bathynellacean and anaspidacean syncarids, aquatic snails, cave beetles and the
arachnids (ticks, mites, pseudoscorpions, harvestmen and spiders).
In addition to factors related to cave morphology and hydrological influences (stream
recharge or input etc.), the two predominant factors influencing the distribution of
invertebrate species are the intensity of karst bio-space development and the input of
organic matter, its re-distribution and dilution as it is transported further into the
subterranean domain. In most of the wild caves at Ida Bay, this organic material is naturally
derived, but at Hastings where tourist caves have been developed, much of the organic
matter has been introduced to the cave. The source of organic input in tourist caves is
varied and includes the artificial introduction of exotics in the form of tree trunks, rough
sawn timber and other plant matter used in the construction of stairs and fern log pathways,
plus the litter "inadvertently" placed in caves by natural processes, carried in by humans or
dumped as refuse in the course of the continuing development of caves for tourism.
Aside from organic input, the survival and distribution of cave species is dependent on a
range of factors including the presence/ or absence of surface disturbance and the impacts
of human use of caves or other components of the karst bio-space, including groundwater.
Within the karst bio-space itself, there are the complexities of inter-relationships of species
and predator-prey relationships within the subterranean food chain, together with the
presence of cave bacteria and other micro-organisms found deep within the dark zone of
caves; the dependence of cave species on these micro-organisms has not been studied here
in Tasmania. A proportion of the cave species are obligates, totally dependent on the cave
for survival and some of these species are cave adapted (troglobites or stygobites). The
number of cave adapted species in Tasmanian caves generally exceeds the numbers found
in most areas of mainland Australia and five caves in the study area at Hastings and Ida
Bay are rated as being at world standard in the number of obligate species.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Keywords: Cave ecology, Invertebrates, Biospeleology
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2006 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Available for library use only but NOT for copying until 31 May 2008. After that date, available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MSc)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:54
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:54
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