Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 9, pp 2097–2129 | Cite as

Priority caves for biodiversity conservation in a key karst area of Brazil: comparing the applicability of cave conservation indices

  • Lucas Mendes RabeloEmail author
  • Marconi Souza-Silva
  • Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira
Review Paper


Landscapes in tropical regions have been greatly altered by human activities, as a product of growing demands for mineral and agricultural production, as well as those related to the generation of energy (e.g., hydroelectric, wind). In this scenario, caves have suffered several impacts, sometimes irreversible, as they are generally associated with rocks of high economic value and are closely related to epigean systems. Several indices have been proposed to guide conservation policies for the world’s speleological heritage, although few of them consider cave biodiversity as a criterion. To address this knowledge gap, we tested the applicability of four newly proposed indices to assist researchers and policy-makers select priority areas for global cave biodiversity conservation. To compare indices, we used data from 48 caves of the largest carbonate region of South America (Bambui geological group), all found within the Cerrado, a global biodiversity hotspot. Each of the four indices considered cave biodiversity as a criterion, although only three adequately evaluated this attribute. Based on results of Simões index and CCPi, which were the most appropriate in relation to indicate priority caves for biodiversity conservation in regions where the fauna and its distribution are not fully known, 15 of the 48 caves were identified as conservation priorities.


Neotropic Impact Invertebrate Efficiency Karst 



We thank the taxonomists that helped on identifications (L. Bernardi, A. C. Vasconcelos, R. Bastos-Pereira, A. Brescovit, D. Zeppelini, L. F. Iniesta, L. Ázara, M. Villela); to the team of Center of Studies on Subterranean Biology for the help in field work and on sorting, to the people who helped guiding and accompanying until finding the sampled caves (Santinho, Bira, E. Gomes, E. Veloso, R. Sarmento, Lorão, Aldelice and Nilsinho); to the managers and staff of Parque Estadual da Lapa Grande for the welcome; to the staff of Parque Nacional Cavernas do Peruaçu; to the people who helped indicating caves and maps (F. Gonçalves, L. Zogbi, A. Auler and E. Rubioli); to the groups of speleology that provided topographic maps (EPL, GBPE and SEE), especially the speleogroup Peter Lund which also accompanied in several field works; to Paulo Pompeu, Nelson Curi, Pedro Cardoso, Dirk Schmeller and the other reviewers for the suggestions; and institutions that funded the present project, scholarships and infrastructure (FAPEMIG, Process No APQ 01281-13, CAPES, UFLA and VALE). RLF is also grateful to the CNPq (Grant No. 3046821/2014-4).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucas Mendes Rabelo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marconi Souza-Silva
    • 2
  • Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia AplicadaUniversidade Federal de LavrasLavrasBrazil
  2. 2.Centro de Estudos em Biologia Subterrânea, Setor de Zoologia Geral–Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal de LavrasLavrasBrazil

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