Invertebrate Fauna of Nova Scotia Caves (Curatorial Report #86)


  • Max Moseley


Caves, Biospeleology, Nova Scotia, Cave Animals, Invertebrates


Nova Scotia is fortunate in having extensive karstlands. There are large areas of sulphate(gypsum) karst in mainland Nova Scotia (Hants, Colchester, Halifax, Cumberland and AntigonishCounties) and on Cape Breton Island (Inverness and Victoria Counties). There are also several smallerareas of carbonate (limestone) karst (Moseley 1996). Both types of karstland are richly endowed withfeatures of geological, zoological and botanical importance, both on the surface and underground.

One of the unusual features of karsts is the presence of dissolution caves and the diverse biotawhich they contain. This is as true in Nova Scotia as elsewhere in the world: more than forty caves haveso far been discovered and documented in the Province (Appendix I), and they harbour a varied faunaof insects and other invertebrates, as well as bats, porcupines, deer mice, and occasional amphibians andtishes.

The invertebrate fauna found in this ecosystem is of considerable interest. The habitat itself isunusual, and it is also essentially a natural system that has not been modified by man. In Nova Scotia thefauna includes a number of rare and otherwise notable species. It is also still in an active phase ofreinvasion and recolonisation following the destruction of all former fauna by the Pleistocene glaciations,and may thus prove to be of value in zoogeography and in evolutionary biology.