Cave Life

Flora and Fauna of Caves - Speleobiology


Biospeology is the scientific study of organisms living in caves. Plants, which need light for photosynthesis, can be found only in the entrance area of caves. Animals permanently living in caves are called troglobites. But most animals thought to be cave animals, like bats and cave bears, are just visitors to caves! Many animals use caves temporary for hibernation.

Therefore different types of cave animals are distinguished. The original classification into three groups was introduced by the Austrian entomologist Ignaz Rudolph Schiner in 1854. 1907 it was modified by the Romanian biologist ExplainEmil Racoviță (mostly transcribed as Racovitza) and it was used as Schiner-Racovitza system for decades. The system has often been criticized as imprecise, numerous cave biologists have suggested alternatives:

Since this website is only intended to provide a first insight into the topic, we mainly use the classic Schiner-Racovitza system.

Terrestrial Aquatic Explanation
Classic Modern English
Troglobiont Eutroglobiont Cave animals stygobite An animal that lives in a cave and is unable to live outside of it. Troglobionts usually have troglomorphic adaptions.
Troglophil Eutroglophil cave loving animals stygophile An animal which frequently completes its life cycle in caves but is not confined to this habitat.
Trogloxen Subtroglophil Cave Visitor stygoxene An animal which lives above ground but visits the cave for certain reasons (overnight, hibernation, hideout,...).
Eutrogloxen Accidential Visitor An animal which is not living in cave and gets there by accident.

Special Aspects of Biospeleology