Man has come a long way since the times of the caveman, yet people are still fascinated by caves. These dark worlds are home to complex ecosystems waiting to be discovered. Take this quiz to see how much you know about cave biology.
What is the recreational exploration of caves called?
Spelunking is the recreational exploration of caves. Speleology is the scientific exploration of caves and biospeleology is the study of the biology of caves, including cave organisms and cave ecosystems.
Why are caves a challenging place for organisms to live in?
Organisms living in caves have to adapt to constant darkness, high humidity, a lack of nutrients, and gases, such as methane and sulfur, which may be lethal to some organisms.
Who is the best known cave-dweller?
While bats are well known for living in caves, fish, salamanders, insects, spiders, shrimp, crickets and various fungi and bacteria also call caves home.
Which of the following creatures may live in caves part of the time?
Animals, such as bears, bats or raccoons and even some humans, live in caves part-time.
What is regressive evolution?
Some species have lost features, such as eyesight and skin pigmentation, in order to adapt to cave environments. This process is known as regressive evolution.
How does understanding the genetic adaptation of cave organisms help us?
Understanding genetic adaptations of cave organisms can help us to understand how biology works. For example, understanding how cave organisms develop abnormal eyes can help us understand abnormal eye development in humans.
Cave organisms are categorized into three groups. What factor determines which category they will be classed into?
Cave animals are grouped according to the amount of time they spend in the cave.
Trogloxenes are the first category of cave organisms. What do they use caves for?
Trogloxenes come from the Greek word troglos, meaning cave, and xenos, meaning guest. Trogloxenes come and go as they please and use the cave for hibernation, nesting and giving birth. Bats, bears, skunks and raccoons are examples of trogloxenes.
When do troglophiles leave the cave?
Troglophiles, from the Greek word troglos, meaning cave, and phileo, meaning love, love to be in the caves but leave in order to find food. A troglophile can live its entire life inside or outside the cave, but strongly prefers to live inside the cave. Examples of troglophiles are beetles, worms, frogs, salamanders, crickets and some crustaceans and crayfish.
What is unique about troglobites?
Troglobites, from the Greek words troglos, meaning cave, and bios, meaning life, are creatures that spend their entire life inside the cave, and would not survive if they ventured outside of the cave. They have long antennae and legs so that they can find their away around and locate food in the dark. Cave fish, shrimp, millipedes and some salamanders and insects are examples of troglobites.
What condition exists in the entrance zone of a cave?
The entrance zone of the cave is the first of the three parts of the cave. In this section, there is exposure to sunlight, the temperature varies according to the weather and there is quite a bit of greenery.
What is the middle section of a cave called?
The middle section of the cave, known as the twilight zone, has less light and therefore less greenery. The temperature fluctuates less than in the entrance zone. Many trogloxenes hibernate in the twilight zone.
In the _____ zone of the cave, there is no light at all.
The third cave zone, called the dark zone, has no light at all. The temperature remains constant and the organisms that live there have adapted to survive in this environment.
How do troglobites survive without any plants to supply food?
Plant matter carried into the cave by trogloxenes or troblophiles, or by excess rainwater, becomes food for troglobites to enjoy. In addition, a complex food chain exists within caves, supplying food for organisms of all shapes and sizes.
What do the smallest organisms in the food chain eat?
Bacteria and fungi eat guano, also known as bat poop. Most animals cannot eat guano but fungus and bacteria feed on the organic material and break it down into simple nutrients, which are enjoyed by millipedes and tiny crustaceans who feed on the fungus and bacteria.
Why is the cave food chain referred to as a cave food pyramid?
There are many more organisms at the bottom of the cave food chain than at the top. The creatures higher up the chain are generally more evolved.
Some centipedes have grown so large in caves that they have been spotted eating what?
Cave centipedes can get so big that they have been spotted eating bats. Who said there isn't much to eat inside caves?!
At the end of which century did people start to study cave biology?
The study of cave biology started in the late 1700s, when foot-long salamanders were spotted in Slovenian caves. These salamanders are some of the largest troglobites ever discovered.
What did the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 decree?
Caves are very sensitive environments. Shedding even lint, hairs or dandruff introduces new fungi and bacteria to the cave which can pollute it causing the entire bionetwork to collapse. The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 made it a criminal offense to disturb, destroy or deface a cave structure and the life inside it.
Why do biologist keep their best caves secret?
The fewer people in a cave, the less likely it is that the ecosystem will be disturbed. This is why biologist and serious cavers keep the best caves a secret.
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