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The invertebrate cave fauna of Tasmania : ecology and conservation biology


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Eberhard, Stefan 1992 , 'The invertebrate cave fauna of Tasmania : ecology and conservation biology', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The invertebrate cave fauna of Tasmania is reviewed, based on collections from
more than 130 caves in 31 karst areas. These totals represent approximately 14% of
the known caves and about one half of the cavernous karst areas in the State. The
distributions, ecological and conservation status of all taxa are discussed. More
than 150 species, representing some 130 families in five phyla were identified.
Species in at least 34 genera can be classified as troglobites or stygobionts. The
fauna includes rare species, and species which are phylogenetic relicts, or have
Gondwanaland affinities. Many taxa are undescribed.
More so than for mainland Australia, the Tasmanian cave fauna shows a pattern of
similarity with the cave faunas of other glacial and periglacial regions such as New
Zealand, Japan, United States and Europe. The disjunct distribution patterns shown
by some genera of harvestmen and beetles support the Pleistocene-effect theory to
explain the evolution of terrestrial troglobites. The cave stygobiont fauna includes
species of syncarids, amphipods, heteriids, phreatoicids, flatworms and hydrobiid
molluscs. At least the amphipod component of this fauna did not develop from
hypogean ancestors, but probably colonised caves from adjacent surface waters.
Tasmania has the richest cave faunal assemblages in temperate Australia, with more
than 70 taxa, consisting of more than 15 cave obligate species, recorded from some
karst systems. Non karstic caves, such as dolerite boulder caves, also contain
troglobitic species. Geological structure directly affects cave species diversity and
ecological complexity. There is a general relationship between cave size and
density, and species richness. Size of the karst area, vertical relief of the limestone
outcrop and the type of surface vegetation also influence biodiversity in caves.
Some populations of cave invertebrates in Tasmania are 'vulnerable' or
'endangered', whilst others have recently become extinct. They are threatened by
limestone quarrying, forestry operations, agricultural practises and recreation. The
effect of quarry operations on Bradley Chestermans Cave include sedimentation,
gross pollution and local extinction of aquatic fauna. Quarry run off has caused
depletion of populations of aquatic snails in the Exit Cave system. Management
requirements for Kubla Khan Cave include the protection of sensitive habitats from
the impacts of cave visitors. Twenty eight sites of special conservation value are
listed. Conservation and management initiatives for Tasmania are discussed,
including collecting ethics, vulnerable habitats and species, and minimum impact
caving techniques.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Eberhard, Stefan
Keywords: Biospeleology, Invertebrates
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1994 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:

Thesis (M.Sc.)--University of Tasmania, 1994, 1986. Includes bibliographical references (p. 120-135)

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