Cave Ecology pp 497-532 | Cite as

Where Angels Fear to Tread: Developments in Cave Ecology

  • William F. HumphreysEmail author
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 235)


The chapter anticipates the application of new or emerging methodological, technological and analytical approaches to the discipline of subterranean ecology. It notes the lack of basic biology (natural history) available for subterranean species outside the northern temperate zone and the disparity of knowledge across regions. It highlights the importance of establishing and contributing to open-access regional and global biodiversity data bases including genetic data bases. It examines idiosyncratically selected areas of subterranean ecology that are considered likely to progress partly through the application of these methodologies. It also covers areas of ecology judged to have been neglected in the context of subterranean ecosystems. Included are the general topics of methodological and technological innovations, basic biology (natural history), enumeration and movement, sampling in terrestrial and aquatic systems, diversity and the potential of metagenomics (eDNA), food sources and species interactions, the transition to subterranean life (trogloneogenesis), cave climate and climate change and biofilms and biogeochemistry. It considers the age of subterranean lineages to a proxy for the circumstances that drove the lineage underground and concludes to be alert for the possibility of opportunistic field experiments.



Brian Vine who first showed me what became Draculoides vinei (Harvey), took me caving in Cape Range and changed forever my research focus. Darren Brook of Exmouth, who has been a constant caving companion. Mark Adams and Steve Cooper of the South Australian Museum and Adelaide University and the succession of researchers through their labs. Julianne Waldock of the Western Australian Museum who has been there throughout. To each and everyone, my appreciation.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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