Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 67 Number 2: 103-109 - August 2005

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Estimating biodiversity in the epikarstic zone of a West Virginia Cave
Tanja Pipan and David C. Culver


A total of 13 ceiling drips in Organ Cave, West Virginia, USA, were sampled for fauna for three consecutive 10 day intervals. A total of 444 individuals from 10 copepod genera were found. Incidence functions revealed that 90 percent of the genera were found in eight samples, and that estimates of total diversity indicated only one or two genera had yet to be found. The overall rate of false negatives for different drips was 0.39 and the overall rate for different time intervals was 0.31, also suggesting that the sampling scheme was sufficient. Compared to nearby pools which serve as collection points for epikarst water, the drip samples were significantly different and more diverse. In addition to copepods, a wide variety of other invertebrates were found in drips, including many terrestrial insects that serve as part of the food base for the cave community. Direct sampling of drips is the preferred method at present for sampling the epikarst fauna.

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