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The Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats$
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David C. Culver and Tanja Pipan

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198820765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198820765.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 September 2021

Sources of Energy in Subterranean Environments

Sources of Energy in Subterranean Environments

(p.24) 2 Sources of Energy in Subterranean Environments
The Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats

David C. Culver

Tanja Pipan

Oxford University Press

Although subterranean habitats in general and caves in particular are often held to be extremely energy-poor (oligotrophic) environments, not all are. Compared to surface habitats, subterranean habitats are nutrient-poor, especially because there is no photo-autotrophic production and chemoautotrophy appears to be uncommon. On the other hand, these differences are not always pronounced. For example, the quantities of carbon fluxes in cave streams are in the range of those reported from surface streams. In some subterranean systems, chemoautotrophy is the main source of energy, but more typically subterranean communities depend on allochthonous sources of organic carbon. The major source of carbon in interstitial habitats is Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) from surface waters. The major sources of carbon for cave communities are (1) water percolating from the surface, (2) sinking streams that enter caves, and (3) activities of animals moving in and out of caves.

Keywords:   allochthonous organic carbon, chemoautotrophy, Dissolved Organic Matter, DOM, oligotrophy

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