Karst Management


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Publication Date

June 2011


Ensuring the appropriate quantity and quality of energy flow from the surface to the subterranean environment is a universal challenge of managing subterranean fauna in karst. This chapter covers four major issues central to an understanding of the energy connections between the surface and the subsurface ecosystems. The first issue is that there needs to be a greater focus on species that are not restricted to subterranean habitats because some of these species act as major vectors of energy into subsurface ecosystems. The second issue is that a greater understanding of the paths of allochthonous energy into the subterranean ecosystem is necessary to ensure the long-term health of the subterranean fauna. Percolating water delivered from the epikarst appears to be more important than organic matter transported by sinking streams in supporting the biofilm that serves as the base of the aquatic food web. Energy transported by active movement of organisms from the surface is essential in supporting the terrestrial food web and possibly some aquatic species as well. The importance of many potential sources of energy, such as the organic matter left on the riparian zones of subterranean streams, has not been studied. The third issue is that management practices need to focus on factors that threaten the energy flow from the surface to the subsurface because, unlike many other threats to subterranean ecosystems, disruptions of such paths of energy are usually not overt and easily recognizable. The fourth issue is that the metabolic adaptation of many subterranean species to the underground environment may increase their resilience to disruptions of energy flow from the surface. Thus, management practices that recognize threats to such energy paths may allow for a higher probability of successful interventions leading to restoration of the health of subterranean ecosystems.


Drip Water, Coarse Particulate Organic Matter, Fine Particulate Organic Matter, Cave Entrance, Sinking Stream

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