The biogeochemistry of anchialine caves: Progress and possibilities




Recent investigations of anchialine caves and sinkholes have identified complex food webs dependent on detrital and, in some cases, chemosynthetically produced organic matter. Chemosynthetic microbes in anchialine systems obtain energy from reduced compounds produced during organic matter degradation (e.g., sulfide, ammonium, and methane), similar to what occurs in deep ocean cold seeps and mud volcanoes, but distinct from dominant processes operating at hydrothermal vents and sulfurous mineral caves where the primary energy source is mantle derived. This review includes case studies from both anchialine and non-anchialine habitats, where evidence for in situ chemosynthetic production of organic matter and its subsequent transfer to higher trophic level metazoans is documented. The energy sources and pathways identified are synthesized to develop conceptual models for elemental cycles and energy cascades that occur within oligotrophic and eutrophic anchialine caves. Strategies and techniques for testing the hypothesis of chemosynthesis as an active process in anchialine caves are also suggested.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The biogeochemistry of anchialine caves: Progress and possibilities
Series title Hydrobiologia
DOI 10.1007/s10750-011-0624-5
Volume 677
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 19 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Hydrobiologia
First page 33
Last page 51
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