Troglofauna in the vadose zone: comparison of scraping and trapping results and sampling adequacy


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Publication Date

January 2014


Most sampling of troglofauna occurs in caves but troglofauna species are widespread across the vadose zone in Western Australia in iron ore deposits and calcretes. Other than in karstic calcrete, the subterranean spaces in the Western Australian vadose zone are small and often of similar size to the troglofauna inhabiting them. Here we describe how troglofauna can be sampled in the vadose zone using a technique called scraping, in which a haul net is dropped down a hole drilled for geological exploration. We analysed of the results of 10, 895 sampling events in which both the scraping and trapping techniques were used. In the Pilbara region of Western Australia, where most of the fieldwork occurred, scraping collected approximately three-quarters more troglofaunal animals than trapping and more than twice as many troglofauna species per sample. Most orders of troglofauna were collected in greater numbers by scraping than trapping. However, the yields from both troglofauna sampling techniques are low and, even when the results of both techniques are combined to constitute a single unit of sample effort, the currently prescribed effort for environmental impact assessment will document only about half the species present at a site. It is suggested that a larger number of samples should be collected.


Troblobite, Subterranean Fauna, Australia, Sampling Method, Environmental Impact Assessment

Document Type



Subterranean Biology, Vol. 13 (2014).