Applying ecology for cave management in China and neighbouring countries
Article first published online: 28 APR 2009
© 2009 The Author. Journal compilation © 2009 British Ecological Society
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 46, Issue 3, pages 520–523, June 2009
How to Cite
Whitten, T. (2009), Applying ecology for cave management in China and neighbouring countries. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46: 520–523. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01630.x
- Issue published online: 28 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 28 APR 2009
- Received 13 May 2008; accepted 28 January 2009Handling Editor: E. J. Milner-Gulland
- cave ecology;
- cave management;
- cave fauna;
- World Bank
- 1Caves are arguably the hottest of the biodiversity hotspots as measured by endemism and threat, yet they receive very little attention or appropriate management. Some recent investigations in China have found that up to 90% of the animals collected in caves are new to science, yet environmental assessments for development projects in karst areas rarely if ever give attention to the cave fauna.
- 2The lack of light, and the cave-specific conditions of humidity, air flow and source of energy have resulted in extreme adaptations among the animals living within them.
- 3There is no government agency or non-governmental organization (NGO) on conservation concerned with caves in China or many other countries, and although there are caving expeditions, they concentrate on exploration rather than the cave fauna.
- 4Disturbance by limestone quarrying, visitors, tourism infrastructure, and changes in water flow through, or from above, the cave can have devastating effects on the highly adapted and range-restricted fauna.
- 5Some examples of World Bank-financed development projects which have led to cave conservation are given.
- 6Synthesis and applications. The cave biodiversity of China and neighbouring countries is worthy of conservation and there is a huge number of nationally endemic species, most of which are unknown. Destruction or damage to caves can cause entire communities of cave species to become extinct. To address this problem, the disparate, taxon-limited specialists interested in cave fauna need to reach out to the cave exploration community, the major conservation NGOs, and the state and local conservation agencies. Those charged with the task of conserving biodiversity should give thought to how the current national protected area systems and processes manage – and fail – to address the needs of the cave fauna, and look for the means to effect the necessary changes in management, based on the peculiar ecology of caves.