Forest productivity – Karst
ecosystems are commonly more productive than similar forest sites
on non-karst terrain. This increased productivity can be largely
attributed to the well-drained soils and nutrient cycling associated
Plant and animal habitats – Karst
ecosystems often support unusual or rare plant and animal species,
both on the surface and underground. Here are some examples:
- Some ferns and mosses require a limestone substrate
on which to grow and other fern species have adapted to growing
in the cool, moist twilight conditions of cave entrances.
- Elk and deer use cave entrances during summer for bedding
down because the air from caves is cooler, and also during the
winter when cave air is generally warmer than surrounding temperatures.
- Trogloxenes utilize
caves. For example, bats use caves for roosting and hibernation.
are creatures that live permanently underground, beyond the daylight
zone of caves, and cannot survive outside the cave environment.
In BC, some troglobites survived the last ice age in subsurface
cavities and caves. The Stygobromus quatsinensis is
a rare freshwater crustacean found in underground pools in caves
on Vancouver Island.
such as some species of salamanders, spiders and crickets, can
utilize karst features for habitat.
- Troglobites, troglophiles, and trogloxenes can be highly susceptible
to even minor disturbances in their environment.
Back to "Why is
Karst Important?" table
|Adult coho salmon
in Vancouver Island cave
Fisheries – It has been found that karst
can contribute to high fish productivity because:
- The leaching of calcium carbonate from carbonate
- Cool karst groundwater can help stabilize stream temperatures.
- The storage capacity of karst systems helps even out
- Karst streams are richer in nutrients and aquatic
- Karst stream systems can provide more protective sites for
fish to rest, breed and avoid predators.
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