Cave Ecology pp 479-494 | Cite as

Conservation and Impact Assessment of Subterranean Fauna in Australia

  • Stuart Halse
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 235)


The focus on conservation of subterranean fauna has been greater in Western Australia than other parts of Australia because the subterranean fauna is richer. All fauna is protected at the species level in Western Australia and actions that may reasonably be expected to result in loss of a subterranean (or any surface) species cannot lawfully be approved. However, the practical challenges to protecting subterranean species that occur in the broad landscape, rather than in well-defined caves, include assessing whether a species is threatened when there is very little information about subterranean species distributions and the difficulty of stopping economically important projects for hidden species that appear to have little value. Documenting subterranean fauna communities in development areas usually requires large sampling effort and determining the ranges of rarer species is always difficult, especially for troglofauna. Using geological information to predict species ranges is also challenging because below-ground mapping of the geological characteristics likely to control subterranean fauna occurrence requires extensive drilling and is therefore expensive. The process of identifying which subterranean species are present can also be challenging because the taxonomic framework for the Australian fauna is poorly developed; there are rather different selective pressures on the morphology of subterranean species compared with their surface relatives and dispersal capacity is poor, which complicates the use of genetics to identify species. While the main threats to subterranean fauna include mining, water supply and agriculture, the lack of strong public support for their conservation is also a threat that needs to be addressed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bennelongia Environmental ConsultantsJolimontAustralia

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