Cave Conservation Priority Index to Adopt a Rapid Protection Strategy: A Case Study in Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest


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January 2015


Cave environments are characterized by possessing specialized fauna living in high environmental stability with limited food conditions. These fauna are highly vulnerable to impacts, because this condition can frequently be easily altered. Moreover, environmental determinants of the biodiversity patterns of caves remain poorly understood and protected. Therefore, the main goal of this work is to propose a cave conservation priority index (CCPi) for a rapid assessment for troglobiotic and troglophile protection. Furthermore, the troglobiotic diversity, distribution and threats have been mapped in the Brazilian Atlantic forest. To propose the CCPi, the human impacts and richness of troglobiotic and troglophile species of 100 caves were associated. Data related to troglomorphic/troglobiotic fauna from another 200 caves were used to map the troglobiotic diversity and distribution. The CCPi reveals extremely high conservation priority for 15 % of the caves, high for 36 % and average for 46 % of the caves. Fourteen caves with extremely high priorities should have urgent conservation and management actions. The geographical distribution of the 221 known troglobiotic/troglomorphic species allowed us to select 19 karst areas that need conservation actions. Seven areas were considered to have urgent priority for conservation actions. The two richest areas correspond to the “iron quadrangle” with iron ore caves (67 spp.) and the “Açungui limestone group” (56 spp.). Both areas have several caves and are important aquifers. The use of the CCPi can prevent future losses because it helps assessors to select caves with priorities for conservation which should receive emergency attention in relation to protection, management and conservation actions.


Biodiversity, Conservation Priority, Cave Fauna, Cave Vulnerability, Cave Conservation

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