UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Cato Holler Jr., Jonathan D. Mays, and Matthew L. Niemiller
The fauna of caves and other subterranean habitats of North Carolina, USA
Over 1,500 caves have been documented in North Carolina, however, cave fauna in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Piedmont regions of North Carolina have been overlooked historically compared to the cave-rich karst terrains in the Appalachian Valley and Ridge and Interior Low Plateau to the west. Here, we provide the first comprehensive faunal list of caves and other subterranean habitats in the state based on over 40 years of periodic surveys and compilation of literature, biodiversity databases, and museum records. We report 475 occurrences from 127 caves, springs, and wells in 29 counties, representing 5 phyla, 17 classes, 43 orders, 90 families, 124 genera, and at least 164 species. Vertebrate fauna comprised 32 species, including 4 fishes, 9 salamanders, 1 lizard, 4 snakes, 2 birds, and 12 mammals (8 bats). Diverse invertebrate groups included spiders (11 families and 18 genera), springtails (7 families and 9 genera), segmented worms (3 families and 8 genera), and snails (6 families and 9 genera). At least 25 taxa are troglobites/ stygobites (cave obligates), including 5 species of cave flatworms, 5 cave springtails, and 5 cave amphipods. Most troglobitic/stygobitic fauna documented in this study are endemic to North Carolina. Counties with the greatest cave biodiversity include Rutherford, McDowell, Swain, Henderson, Polk, and Avery counties. Over 20 species documented are of conservation concern, including 14 troglobites and 3 federally-listed bats. Although not as diverse as adjacent states, caves and other subterranean habitats in North Carolina support a diverse community of invertebrates and vertebrates. Our review serves as a base line for future cave biological surveys in the state and highlights the importance of subterranean habitats for North Carolina biodiversity.
Cato Holler Jr., Jonathan D. Mays, and Matthew L. Niemiller, 2020, The fauna of caves and other subterranean habitats of North Carolina, USA , Journal of Cave and Karst Studies , 82 , 221 - 260 https://caves.org/pub/journal/Journal_of_Cave_and_Karst_Studies_volume_82.shtml, PDF