Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 67 Number 3: 148-157 - December 2005

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Sensitive Ecological Areas and Species Inventory of Actun Chapat Cave, Vaca Plateau, Belize
J. Judson Wynne and William Pleytez


Cave ecosystems are considered one of the most poorly studied and fragile systems on Earth. Belize caves are no exception. This paper represents the first effort to synthesize information on both invertebrate and vertebrate observations from a Belize cave. Based on limited field research and a review of literature, we identified two ecologically sensitive areas, and developed a species inventory list containing 41 vertebrate and invertebrate morphospecies in Actun Chapat, Vaca Plateau, west-central Belize. Actun Chapat contains two ecologically sensitive areas: (1) a large multiple species bat roost, and (2) a subterranean pool containing troglobites and stygobites. The inventory list is a product of sporadic research conducted between 1973 and 2001. Ecological research in this cave system remains incomplete. An intensive systematic ecological survey of Actun Chapat with data collection over multiple seasons using a suite of survey techniques will provide a more complete inventory list. To minimize human disturbance to the ecologically sensitive areas, associated with ecotourism, we recommend limited to no access in the areas identified as “sensitive.”

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