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Transcript of Cave Ecosystem
habitat for highly adapted organisms, not found elsewhere
roosting spots for bats which help farmers by pollinating plants or controlling bug populations
Resulting landforms,such as karst, provide aquifers and sources of drinking water
Decomposers specialized in breaking up organic matter recycle nutrients
Many different types of caves are found throughout the world. Some types are found in specific areas, such as sea caves which form near the shore.
This is a map of the geographic distribution of limestone caves.
Food web Graphic
Fungi and bacteria (decomposers): adapted to breaking up organic matter
Millipedes, crustaceans, beetles, salamanders, cavefish: adapted to their conditions, some of them have evolved without eyes/heightened sense for movement
Other organisms, such as bats, can be found in caves but do not depend directly on it for food
Abiotic factors gradients
Type of rock
pH of water-especially if rocks are easily dissolvable
Water/Wave energy- groundwater, oceans
Salinity- depending on location
Latitude and temperature
Nutrients, ex. guano
There are not many autotrophs found in caves due to the lack of sunlight. Organisms that are adapted to this ecosystem feed on organic material, ex. guano.
Caves are mostly underground and characterized by stalactites and stalagmite formations. Depending on how they were formed, they can also affect the surrounding area.
Solutional caves, the most frequent type, result in sinkholes in the nearby area and a karst topography.
Precipitation varies by location and how the cave was formed. Some caves may not be directly affected by rainfall, but still affected by the resulting groundwater.
Temperature also varies by location, for example, glacier caves are found in cold areas.
In addition, temperature varies in certain
parts of a cave. The deep zone, where there is no sunlight, has constant temperature.
Threats to the cave ecosystem include
destruction of habitat
agriculture and polluted runoff
damming and quarrying nearby areas
rising temperatures, which could affect the organisms adapted to a specific climate
Climatograph of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky-the longest karst cave system in the world
Climatograph of Oregon Caves National Monument at Caves Junction-one of the world's only marble caves
1. Why are there so few autotrophs in caves?
2. Did this ecosystem have any common environmental issues with the previous ecosystem?
Cave ecology. (n.d.). Tasmania Parks & Wildlife
Service. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=6425
Caves. (n.d.). National Geographic. Retrieved
October 26, 2013, from http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/earth/surface-of-the-earth/caves-article/
Ronca, D. (n.d.). How cave biology works.
HowStuffWorks. Retrieved October 26, 2013, from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/biology-fields/cave-biology.htm
The lives of bats, and why they matter. (n.d.).
USDA: Forest Services. Retrieved October 27, 2013, from http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r8/home/?cid=STELPRDB5351899