Lifestyles

The cave environment offers very little in the way of food. The trick in underground life is energy saving, so the best adapted organisms are those that need less energy to reproduce and live. For this reason, most of the cave inhabitants have very slow metabolisms: slow growth, small dimensions, a long life cycle, they are slow and don’t move very much, sexual maturation occurs very slowly and very often they maintain the typical characteristics from their youth, they reproduce very little, they are satisfied with minimum quantities of food and normally they use very little oxygen.
Since there is no night and day, their life rhythms aren’t based on the usual 24-hour cycle such as other organisms that live under the sun. Because of the scarce food sources, that depend on autotrophic bacteria and the rare supplies coming from the outside, the hypogeous environment can give hospitality only to a very reduced number of species each made up by few individuals: so caves aren’t very crowded and have a few predators, which means it is a safe and protected place.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

Facts

  • 13 May 2011

    Amphibians in a cave

    Proteus is an amphibian of white-yellowish or light pink colour...

    Can you breathe in a cave?

    One of the most common beliefs is that in caves the air is often stuffy...

  • Ice in caves

    In high mountain or high latitude environments, many caves can contain ice deposits...

    A walk underground

    The longest caves in the world are in Kentucky, the caves of Mammoth...

  • 24 February 2011

    And in underground tunnels?

    There are groups of terrestrial animals that eat insects, worms and other invertebrates...

    13 May 2011

    The climate underground

    Going down deep in the Earth’s crust, the temperatures increase gradually...

  • Amphibians in a cave

    Proteus is an amphibian of white-yellowish or light pink colour...

  • Can you breathe in a cave?

    One of the most common beliefs is that in caves the air is often stuffy...

  • Ice in caves

    In high mountain or high latitude environments, many caves can contain ice deposits...