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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 unconfined is a condition in which the upper surface of the zone of saturation forms a water table under atmospheric pressure [22].?

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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;
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Your search for ecosystems (Keyword) returned 71 results for the whole karstbase:
Showing 61 to 71 of 71
Spent carbide waste retains toxicity long term after disposal in caves and mines , 2012, Semikolennykh Andrew A. , Rahleeva Anna A. , Poputnikova Tatjana B.
We studied the environmental impact of wastes derived from calcium carbide, which is widely used for generating acetylene in industry and speleology. It was shown that spent carbide is toxic for biota and harmful to cave ecosystems and the surrounding environment. The toxic components of spent carbide waste were found to include calcium hydroxide, strontium and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The 50% lethal doses (LD 50%) of fresh spent carbide waste were calculated as 0.28-0.32 g/l in biotests with daphnia, infusoria, and fishes. The toxicity of spent carbide declined only slowly over time, with toxicity still present in 13-year-old samples. Spent carbide should be disposed of with great care to ensure that it cannot be disseminated into natural water systems. Spent carbide deactivation could be provided within isolated bowls filled with water (micro sediment bowls) or within water-proof storage containers, and complete recycling could be achieved through the addition of deactivated waste to solid building materials.

Biodiversity and conservation of subterranean fauna fromPortuguese karst. Ph.D. Thesis, 2012, Ana Sofia Reboleira

This research is a contribution to the study of subterranean biodiversity in karst areas of Portugal, towards its conservation.

The relative inaccessibility of the subterranean environment is a challenge for the study of its fauna, often accessible only in caves but more widely distributed. The subterranean animals are among the most rare, threatened and worldwide underprotected, often by the simple fact of being unknown.

Karst areas of Portugal occupy a considerable part of the territory and harbor more than 2000 caves. The complex biogeographical history of the Iberian Peninsula allowed the survival of several relict arthropod refugees in the subterranean environment.

Subterranean invertebrates have been ignored, as for as the protection of karst systems are concerned in Portugal, largely because knowledge was scarce and disorganized. Reviewing all the bibliographic sources about subterranean fauna from Portugal and listing troglobiont and stygobiont species and locations, was essential to understand the state of knowledge of species richness and the biogeography and conservation status for the studied areas.

In order to understand subterranean biodiversity patterns in karst areas from Portugal, one year of intense fieldwork was performed in more than 40 caves from 14 karst units. Several new species for science were discovered and 7 taxa comprising 2 new genera and 5 new species were described.

Bearing in mind that spatial distribution of subterranean species is crucial to ecological research and conservation, the distribution of hypogean species, from Portuguese karst areas, was mapped using geographic information systems. Also, its subterranean richness was compared with other areas of the world and missing species were estimated on a regional scale. The subterranean biodiversity patterns were analyzed, and several factors were tested to explain richness patterns. Evapotranspiration and the consequent high productivity on the surface may be determinant in the species richness in the different karst units of Portugal, but the depth of the caves and the unique geological features of every massif seemed to play a more important role.

In order to evaluate the tolerance of organisms to groundwater contamination, the acute toxicity of two substances were tested on stygobiont crustaceans with different degrees of troglomorphism. Our study showed that the high levels of endemism contribute to remarkably different toxicological responses within the same genus.

The major problems related to conservation of subterranean habitats were associated to direct destruction and their contamination. These ecosystems lack of specific protection, implying an adequate management of surface habitats and the establishment of priority areas. Integrating all the previous information, this study establishes a ranking of sites for conservation of subterranean fauna in karst areas of Portugal.This research is a contribution to the study of subterranean biodiversity in karst areas of Portugal, towards its conservation.

The relative inaccessibility of the subterranean environment is a challenge for the study of its fauna, often accessible only in caves but more widely distributed. The subterranean animals are among the most rare, threatened and worldwide underprotected, often by the simple fact of being unknown.

Karst areas of Portugal occupy a considerable part of the territory and harbor more than 2000 caves. The complex biogeographical history of the Iberian Peninsula allowed the survival of several relict arthropod refugees in the subterranean environment.

Subterranean invertebrates have been ignored, as for as the protection of karst systems are concerned in Portugal, largely because knowledge was scarce and disorganized. Reviewing all the bibliographic sources about subterranean fauna from Portugal and listing troglobiont and stygobiont species and locations, was essential to understand the state of knowledge of species richness and the biogeography and conservation status for the studied areas.

In order to understand subterranean biodiversity patterns in karst areas from Portugal, one year of intense fieldwork was performed in more than 40 caves from 14 karst units. Several new species for science were discovered and 7 taxa comprising 2 new genera and 5 new species were described.

Bearing in mind that spatial distribution of subterranean species is crucial to ecological research and conservation, the distribution of hypogean species, from Portuguese karst areas, was mapped using geographic information systems. Also, its subterranean richness was compared with other areas of the world and missing species were estimated on a regional scale. The subterranean biodiversity patterns were analyzed, and several factors were tested to explain richness patterns. Evapotranspiration and the consequent high productivity on the surface may be determinant in the species richness in the different karst units of Portugal, but the depth of the caves and the unique geological features of every massif seemed to play a more important role.

In order to evaluate the tolerance of organisms to groundwater contamination, the acute toxicity of two substances were tested on stygobiont crustaceans with different degrees of troglomorphism. Our study showed that the high levels of endemism contribute to remarkably different toxicological responses within the same genus.

The major problems related to conservation of subterranean habitats were associated to direct destruction and their contamination. These ecosystems lack of specific protection, implying an adequate management of surface habitats and the establishment of priority areas. Integrating all the previous information, this study establishes a ranking of sites for conservation of subterranean fauna in karst areas of Portugal.


A method for the stochastic modeling of karstic systems accounting for geophysical data: an example of application in the region of Tulum, Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico), 2012, Vuilleumier C. , Borghi A. , Renard P. , Ottowitz D. , Schiller A. , Supper R. , Cornaton F.

The eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, contains one of the most developed karst systems in the world. This natural wonder is undergoing increasing pollution threat due to rapid economic development in the region of Tulum, together with a lack of wastewater treatment facilities. A preliminary numerical model has been developed to assess the vulnerability of the resource. Maps of explored caves have been completed using data from two airborne geophysical campaigns. These electromagnetic measurements allow for the mapping of unexplored karstic conduits. The completion of the network map is achieved through a stochastic pseudo-genetic karst simulator, previously developed but adapted as part of this study to account for the geophysical data. Together with the cave mapping by speleologists, the simulated networks are integrated into the finite-element flow-model mesh as pipe networks where turbulent flow is modeled. The calibration of the karstic network parameters (density, radius of the conduits) is conducted through a comparison with measured piezometric levels. Although the proposed model shows great uncertainty, it reproduces realistically the heterogeneous flow of the aquifer. Simulated velocities in conduits are greater than 1 cm s−1, suggesting that the reinjection of Tulum wastewater constitutes a pollution risk for the nearby ecosystems.


The new global lithological map database GLiM: A representation of rock properties at the Earth surface, 2012, Hartmann Jens, Moosdorf Nils

Lithology describes the geochemical, mineralogical, and physical properties of rocks. It plays a key role in many processes at the Earth surface, especially the fluxes of matter to soils, ecosystems, rivers, and oceans. Understanding these processes at the global scale requires a high resolution description of lithology. A new high resolution global lithological map (GLiM) was assembled from existing regional geological maps translated into lithological information with the help of regional literature. The GLiM represents the rock types of the Earth surface with 1,235,400 polygons. The lithological classification consists of three levels. The first level contains 16 lithological classes comparable to previously applied definitions in global lithological maps. The additional two levels contain 12 and 14 subclasses, respectively, which describe more specific rock attributes. According to the GLiM, the Earth is covered by 64% sediments (a third of which are carbonates), 13% metamorphics, 7% plutonics, and 6% volcanics, and 10% are covered by water or ice. The high resolution of the GLiM allows observation of regional lithological distributions which often vary from the global average. The GLiM enables regional analysis of Earth surface processes at global scales. A gridded version of the GLiM is available at the PANGEA Database (http://dx.doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.788537).


Biodiversity and conservation of subterranean fauna of Portuguese karst. Ph.D. thesis, 2012, Ana Sofia P. S. Reboleira

This research is a contribution to the study of subterranean biodiversity in karst areas of Portugal, towards its conservation.

The relative inaccessibility of the subterranean environment is a challenge for the study of its fauna, often accessible only in caves but more widely distributed. The subterranean animals are among the most rare, threatened and worldwide underprotected, often by the simple fact of being unknown.

Karst areas of Portugal occupy a considerable part of the territory and harbor more than 2000 caves. The complex biogeographical history of the Iberian Peninsula allowed the survival of several relict arthropod refugees in the subterranean environment.

Subterranean invertebrates have been ignored, as for as the protection of karst systems are concerned in Portugal, largely because knowledge was scarce and disorganized. Reviewing all the bibliographic sources about subterranean fauna from Portugal and listing troglobiont and stygobiont species and locations, was essential to understand the state of knowledge of species richness and the biogeography and conservation status for the studied areas.

In order to understand subterranean biodiversity patterns in karst areas from Portugal, one year of intense fieldwork was performed in more than 40 caves from 14 karst units. Several new species for science were discovered and 7 taxa comprising 2 new genera and 5 new species were described.

Bearing in mind that spatial distribution of subterranean species is crucial to ecological research and conservation, the distribution of hypogean species, from Portuguese karst areas, was mapped using geographic information systems. Also, its subterranean richness was compared with other areas of the world and missing species were estimated on a regional scale. The subterranean biodiversity patterns were analyzed, and several factors were tested to explain richness patterns. Evapotranspiration and the consequent high productivity on the surface may be determinant in the species richness in the different karst units of Portugal, but the depth of the caves and the unique geological features of every massif seemed to play a more important role.

In order to evaluate the tolerance of organisms to groundwater contamination, the acute toxicity of two substances were tested on stygobiont crustaceans with different degrees of troglomorphism. Our study showed that the high levels of endemism contribute to remarkably different toxicological responses within the same genus.

The major problems related to conservation of subterranean habitats were associated to direct destruction and their contamination. These ecosystems lack of specific protection, implying an adequate management of surface habitats and the establishment of priority areas. Integrating all the previous information, this study establishes a ranking of sites for conservation of subterranean fauna in karst areas of Portugal.This research is a contribution to the study of subterranean biodiversity in karst areas of Portugal, towards its conservation.

The relative inaccessibility of the subterranean environment is a challenge for the study of its fauna, often accessible only in caves but more widely distributed. The subterranean animals are among the most rare, threatened and worldwide underprotected, often by the simple fact of being unknown.

Karst areas of Portugal occupy a considerable part of the territory and harbor more than 2000 caves. The complex biogeographical history of the Iberian Peninsula allowed the survival of several relict arthropod refugees in the subterranean environment.

Subterranean invertebrates have been ignored, as for as the protection of karst systems are concerned in Portugal, largely because knowledge was scarce and disorganized. Reviewing all the bibliographic sources about subterranean fauna from Portugal and listing troglobiont and stygobiont species and locations, was essential to understand the state of knowledge of species richness and the biogeography and conservation status for the studied areas.

In order to understand subterranean biodiversity patterns in karst areas from Portugal, one year of intense fieldwork was performed in more than 40 caves from 14 karst units. Several new species for science were discovered and 7 taxa comprising 2 new genera and 5 new species were described.

Bearing in mind that spatial distribution of subterranean species is crucial to ecological research and conservation, the distribution of hypogean species, from Portuguese karst areas, was mapped using geographic information systems. Also, its subterranean richness was compared with other areas of the world and missing species were estimated on a regional scale. The subterranean biodiversity patterns were analyzed, and several factors were tested to explain richness patterns. Evapotranspiration and the consequent high productivity on the surface may be determinant in the species richness in the different karst units of Portugal, but the depth of the caves and the unique geological features of every massif seemed to play a more important role.

In order to evaluate the tolerance of organisms to groundwater contamination, the acute toxicity of two substances were tested on stygobiont crustaceans with different degrees of troglomorphism. Our study showed that the high levels of endemism contribute to remarkably different toxicological responses within the same genus.

The major problems related to conservation of subterranean habitats were associated to direct destruction and their contamination. These ecosystems lack of specific protection, implying an adequate management of surface habitats and the establishment of priority areas. Integrating all the previous information, this study establishes a ranking of sites for conservation of subterranean fauna in karst areas of Portugal.


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


Iberian Meetings of Subterranean Biology regional initiatives towards a global comprehension of subterranean ecosystems (20092013), 2013, Ana Sofia Reboleira, Alberto Sendra

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


A new threat to groundwater ecosystems: first occurrences of the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Girard, 1852) in European caves., 2014, Mazza G. , Reboleira A. S. P. S. , Gonc¸alves F. , Aquiloni L. , Inghilesi A. F. , Spigoli D. , Stoch F. , Taiti S. , Gherardi F. , Tricarico E.

The American red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, is today the alien species most widespread in European water bodies. This invasive crayfish was found for the first time in some caves of Europe, specifically in Portugal and Italy. The presence of P. clarkii in caves is noteworthy, representing a new threat for the groundwater ecosystems due to the possible negative impacts on the native communities.


Diatom flora in subterranean ecosystems: a review., 2014,

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.


The show cave of Diros vs. wild caves of Peloponnese, Greece - distribution patterns of Cyanobacteria, 2014,

The karst cave ‘Vlychada’of Diros, one of the oldest show caves in Peloponnese, sustains extended phototrophic biofilms on various substrata – on rocks inside the cave including speleothems, and especially near the artificial lighting installation (‘Lampenflora’). After a survey of the main abiotic parameters (Photosynthetically Active Radiation -PAR, Temperature -T, Relative Humidity -RH, Carbon Dioxide -CO2) three clusters of sampling sites were revealed according to Principal Component Analysis (PCA): i) the water gallery section predominately influenced by CO2, ii) the dry passages influenced by RH and PAR, and iii) the area by the cave exit at the dry section influenced by temperature. The collected samples from the water gallery section and the dry passages of the cave revealed a total of 43 taxa of Cyanobacteria, with the unicellular/colonial forms being the most abundant. The applied non-metric Multi-dimensional Scaling Ordination (nMDS) of the cumulative species composition showed a clear distinction between the water gallery section and the dry passages of the cave. Further comparison with previous data from other wild caves of Peloponnese (‘Kastria’, ‘Francthi’, and ‘Selinitsa’) was conducted revealing a distinction between the show cave and the wild ones. Apart from the human impact on cave ecosystems – through aesthetic alteration (‘greening’) of cave decorations by the ‘Lampenflora’, and by the cleaning treatments and restoration projects on the speleothems – identification of the organisms constituting the ‘Lampenflora’ might provide taxonomically and ecologically significant taxa.


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