A Hotspot of Arid Zone Subterranean Biodiversity

11th October 2021

Last month both of Bennelongia’s principal scientists Huon Clark and Bruno Buzatto, along with our managing director Stuart Halse published “A Hotspot of Arid Zone Subterranean Biodiversity: The Robe Valley in Western Australia”. This paper discusses a globally significant subterranean fauna hotspot in the Robe Valley of the Pilbara region, Western Australia. In contrast to most other notable hotspots in cave systems, troglofauna of the Robe Valley hotspot occurs in small voids and fissures in mesas comprised mostly of an iron ore formation, while the stygofauna occurs in the alluvium of a river floodplain.

This fauna was collected from up to 50 m below ground level using mining exploration drill holes and monitoring wells. Altogether, 123 subterranean species were collected over a distance of 17 km, comprising 65 troglofauna and 58 stygofauna species. Of these, 61 species were troglobionts and 48 stygobionts. The richness of the Robe Valley is not a localized aberration, but rather reflects the richness of the arid Pilbara region.

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