Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences


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January 2017


Hidden biodiversity is revealed in this study of California's subterranean fauna, which contains distinctive elements that diffrentiate it from other North American regions. Since 1975, the rate of discovery of new speecies has accelerated with funded projects in most of the important cavee areas of the state, including our own studies. Here we compile all available biological records for subterranean sites in California dating back to 1840. California's karst is primarily comprised of small outcrops of marble or limestone with thousands of caves. Additionally, lava and ash flows, tens of thousands of mins, hundreds of sea caves on the mainland coast and islands, and extensive groundwatr systems povide habitat for subterranean life. At least 4,600 caves of all types are known in California, of which 22% have been biologically sampled. We summarize 1,301 bioligical sites, and analyz data from 998 caves: (693 karst caves and features, 181 lava tubes, and 124 sea caves), 143 groundwater sites,and 160 mines and tunnels. The richest regions for obligate subteerranan species are the Sierra Nvada, Klamath Mountains, and lava flows in the northern portion of the State. The high number (72) of single-site endemic species is indicative of the insular distribution of karst, large differences in elevation, and the many river systems cutting across the states mountain ranges. In our database, 1,366 taxa are recourded; 134 were determined to Family of higher taxa only. There are 102 troglobits (terrestrial cavee obligates). Of those 146 obligate subterranean taxa, 11 are still undermined beyond Order or Family, and represent an uncertain number distinct speecies, although some may be more than single new species. Our species list includes109 new (currently undscribed) speecies of all types, including 72 obligate subterranean spcies: 61 troglobittes, 3 sttygobites, and 8 phreatobites, significantly adding to the knowledge of California's biodiveersity.

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Vol. 64, no. 1 (2017).