are air-breathing terrestrial animals that live underground in caves and smaller air-filled voids (meso-caverns) beneath the ground.
Globally, troglofauna may be found in caves and meso-caverns developed by weathering, fracturing or mass movement in virtually any type of rock or sediment, including for example: limestone, calcrete, dolomite, basalt, pisolite, sandstone, granite, colluvium, alluvium.
Typical troglofauna include species of spiders and other arachnids, millipedes, beetles, crickets, cockroaches and many other invertebrates. Some caves also provide habitat for bats, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Some species of invertebrate troglofauna are specially adapted to underground life, and are typically blind and pale with elongated appendages to help them navigate in complete darkness. These obligate terrestrial subterranean species are termed troglobites.
Troglofauna are found across Australia in dark, humid, underground habitats.
Within the last two decades, scientific research and biological surveys, often associated with surveys for the purpose of environmental impact assessment of mining and other projects, have greatly increased knowledge about West Australian troglofauna; this State is now known to be a world hotspot for such organisms. Surveys in other Australian states have also revealed diverse and abundant troglofauna.
A recent review estimated 1,460 species of troglofauna in the Western half of the Australian continent .
Troglofauna are important because they:
Comprise an inconspicuous but important component of World biodiversity
- Represent outstanding examples of adaptation and ongoing evolutionary processes
- Contain many ancient lineages of high scientific value and conservation significance
- Have many species with small distribution ranges, i.e. Short Range Endemics (SRE’s)
- Are vulnerable to extinction from environmental changes and human impacts
- Include species and communities that are protected under state and commonwealth environmental legislation
- Need to be considered as a factor in environmental assessment and approval for development projects in most Australian states and territories