The Biological and Archaeological Significance of Coastal Caves and Karst Features

  • Michael J. Lace
  • John E. Mylroie
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 5)


By virtue of their very structure, coastal caves can serve as protective environments, preserving a wide range of materials in otherwise dramatically evolving shorelines. Caves formed within littoral settings have emerged as critical environments supporting past and present floral and faunal endemic species. The biodiversity inherent in littoral ecosystems offers invaluable clues to modeling past climates and critical indicators of future change. Coastal karst landforms also harbor vestiges of anthropogenic uses spanning human history. These complex remnants have established various types of coastal cave structures as important repositories of preserved archaeological, historical and cultural materials. These repositories support a range of multidisciplinary studies such as geoarchaeology and cultural anthropology while continually reshaping our collective view of human history in the context of shoreline and paleoshoreline settings. The complex evolution of coastal communities in these settings is reflected in the long term uses of coastal landscapes and associated marine and terrestrial resources by archaic through modern indigenous cultures. Archaeologically significant coastal cave sites have been identified in an amazingly diverse set of climates, from continental coastal settlements to temperate equatorial island archipelagos to some of the most inhospitable and intemperate shorelines known – many of which are associated with the repeated migrations and complex settlement patterns of indigenous peoples over time from one coastal region to another.


Lava Tube Cave Site Blue Hole Cave Sediment Coastal Landform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Cave SurveyWest BranchUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA

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