• This is the first study on species-loss from a partially flooded cave
  • We estimated the effects of area lost for cave invertebrates through the species-area equation
  • As expected the community showed a drastic richness reduction after losing area
  • High temporal beta diversity occurs when comparing the community before and after the inundation
  • The study highlighted that area loss resulted in a drastic reduction of cave richness


Subterranean environments are poorly known regarding many ecological aspects, such as community structure and its response to different disturbances. To estimate the effects of ground area lost in a limestone cave community in Southeastern Brazil, the invertebrate fauna was sampled before 76% of the cave floor was submerged by the filling of a hydroeletric power plant reservoir. Then, a 2-year monitoring was conducted. A species-area curve based on empiric data was constructed and the z-value of the species-area equation was calculated, what allowed estimating the expected cave richness after flooding comparing with data obtained during the monitoring. The results support the species-area relationship hypothesis; the cave community showed a drastic reduction of richness after losing area. Furthermore, it was also possible to estimate the species richness using the species-area equation. Moreover, the cave community showed a high temporal beta diversity when comparing the community sampled before and after the inundation; this pattern becomed less pronunciated over time. A high z-value (z = 0.58) was found for the cave species-area equation, indicating that subterranean communities are even more damaged by area loss than other environments probably due to the reduced mobility of cave invertebrates and the physical isolation of this environment. The present study highlighted that area loss resulted in a drastic reduction of cave richness. Additionally, it became evident that whenever possible studies should consider the original condition of a cave community and their responses after disturbances. Such strategy is critically important for conservation purposes.



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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Appendix 1.pdf (82 kB)
Appendix 1