Invertebrate Cave Fauna of Jenolan

Stefan M. Eberhard, Graeme B. Smith, Michael M. Gibian, Helen M. Smith, Michael R. Gray


The invertebrate fauna known from within the caves at Jenolan is inventoried and summarised. At least 136 individual taxa have been identified although less than one-half (43%) are assigned to described species, the rest are either undescribed (8%) or have only been identified to genus level (31%) or higher taxa (18%). The collected fauna is dominated by arachnids (47%) and collembolans (24%) followed by insects (15%) and crustaceans (6%) with three or fewer taxa identified in each of the remaining groups comprising molluscs, diplopods, chilopods, annelids, platyhelminths and nematodes. In terms of ecological dependence on caves, 53% of collected taxa comprised typically epigean species with the remainder considered to be habitual cave-dwellers. Eight species (revised from 14 previously) are considered to be obligate hypogean species (terrestrial troglobites or aquatic stygobites) comprising three species of springtail, two spiders, a pseudoscorpion and two aquatic crustaceans. The diversity of troglobite species is fairly typical for karst areas in the eastern highlands of NSW but higher unrecorded diversity of stygobite species is predicted. While the invertebrate cave fauna of Jenolan has received more attention from biologists than any other karst area in NSW, substantial knowledge gaps remain. Research and conservation priorities are: (1) identify existing collections and describe new species, focussing on troglomorphic taxa which are likely to be locally endemic and of conservation significance; (2) targeted field surveys for rare troglomorphic taxa which are under-represented in existing collections; (3) sample for aquatic micro-crustacea and other stygofauna in vadose zone, phreatic zone and interstitial habitats; (4) sample for troglobites in meso-cavern and other cryptic terrestrial habitats.

Full Text: