Cave Ecology pp 351-368 | Cite as

Researches in Sulphide-Based Ecosystems

  • Alexandra Hillebrand-Voiculescu
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 235)


Caves are habitats characterised by partial/complete darkness, constant climate (constant air/water temperature, relative humidity) and restricted input of nutrients. Based on their speleogenesis, caves can be epigenic—when formed by the movement of water from overlying or immediately adjacent recharge surfaces to springs in nearby valleys—or hypogenic, when formed by fluids ascending through various geological and tectonic settings at different depths by different dissolution mechanisms. In contrast to the majority of caves (epigenic) that have at least one opening towards the surface, and where the underground biocenosis dependent on the input of exogenous organic matters (litter, logs, animals, etc.), the hypogenic caves present a high degree of isolation from the surface, the energy in these systems being mainly provided by the rising fluids and gases such as H2S and CH4, in the ascending water. These compounds are the energy source for chemolithotrophic bacteria forming the base of the underground trophic web. Here, we present a completely isolated hypogenic cave, the Movile Cave (Romania) and its unusually rich and diverse biocenosis and Cueva de Villa Luz (Mexico), another hypogenic cave presenting several underground habitats, due to various conditions (skylights, river, sulphurous/unsulphurous water, etc.) in which specific organisms thrive.



I thank Dr. Şerban Sârbu and Cristian Lascu for wonderful explanations and discussion on the underground ecosystems and to Vlad Voiculescu, Mihai Baciu and Dr. Virgil Drăguşin for assisting me in my research of Movile Cave. I am most grateful to my collaborators, Prof. Colin Murrell (UK), Dr. Deepak Kumaresan (UK) and Dr. Alena Nováková (CZ) for valuable scientific discussions and great time spent together during sampling trips and throughout our collaborations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra Hillebrand-Voiculescu
    • 1
  1. 1.Emil Racoviţă Institute of Speleology & Group for Underwater and Speleological ExplorationBucharestRomania

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