Evolutionary Biology

pp 35-102

Cave Ecology and the Evolution of Troglobites

  • Thomas C. BarrJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Zoology and Institute of Speleology, University of Kentucky

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Obligatory cavernicoles, or troglobites, have traditionally been of special interest to evolutionary biologists for several reasons. The existence of animal life in caves and other subterranean spaces at first attracted attention because of its novelty; intensive biological exploration of caves began little more than a century ago. Although the discovery and description of the cave faunas of the world is far from complete, especially in the Western Hemisphere, so much descriptive information has been compiled that we can safely assert that, at least in unglaciated, temperate parts of the world, the occurrence of numerous species of troglobites in any major limestone region is a common and highly probable phenomenon.