The Dark Side of Relict Species Biology Cave Animals as Ancient Lineages

Thorsten Assmann, Achille Casale, Claudia Drees, Jan C. Habel, Andrea Matern, and Andreas Schuldt

Abstract Due to their fascinating biology and phenomena belonging to the realm of scientific curiosity, cave animals have been objects of study for zoologists for numerous decades. This chapter not only focuses on the extremes (e.g., absence of eyes, specialization to extreme environments), but also serves as an introduction to understand the geographic distribution patterns and history of these highly diverse ecological groups with their relict characteristics. After an introduction to the subterranean environment in Sect. 1, we briefly review the biology and ecology of cave animals with their regressive and progressive evolutionary tendencies in order to understand the innate reasons for restricted distribution patterns (Sect. 2). In Sect. 3, we summarize the main aspects of our knowledge regarding the distribution of these species, especially in the Holarctic; and finally in Sect. 4, we highlight the relict characteristics of cave animal distribution and the ancient phylogenetic splits between cave and surface lineages.

T. Assmann (*), C. Drees, A. Matern, and A. Schuldt

Institute of Ecology and Environmental Chemistry, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Scharnhorststraße 1, D-21335 Lüneburg, Germany e-mail: [email protected]

A. Casale

Dipartimento di Zoologia e Genetica Evoluzionistica, Université di Sassari, Via Muroni 25, I-07100 Sassari, Italy

J.C. Habel

Musée national d'histoire naturelle, Section Zoologie des Invertébrés, 2160 Luxembourg, Luxembourg;

University Trier, Biogeographie, D-54296 Trier, Germany

J.C. Habel and T. Assmann (eds.), Relict Species: Phylogeography and Conservation Biology, 91 DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-92160-8_4, © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

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