Cave Life, Oh Yeah! 

A Biodiversity Hotspot

In 2000, Hotspots of Subterranean Biodiversity in Caves and Wells was published. It listed only 20 sites on the entire earth where 20 plus species of subterranean animals occur. At the time, three were in the United States (one cave in Kentucky, one in Alabama, and a deep artesian well in Texas). As a result of biologists surveying animals in Binkley Cave since 1997, Binkley Cave has now been added to this list of hotspots.

Due to the vast extent of the cave, its 44+ miles of passages host a wide variety of living spaces or habitats for these animals. For example, water habitats in Binkley vary from deep cave rivers where countless cavefish live to shallow pools of water created by dripping formations where tiny crustaceans live.

Another factor is geographic location. The Binkley system is located in an area that was adjacent to the great glaciers of the Pleistocene Ice Age. This led to a diverse fauna, some species are only known to exist in the Binkley cave system. Others are known only from caves within the drainage of our local Blue River, while some (like the eyeless cave crayfish) are found in caves from parts of Indiana and Kentucky.

21 Species of Troglobites

So far 21 species of troglobites have been identified in Binkley Cave system and the biological survey continues. One example of a troglobite is the eyeless cavefish.

  1. Spiral cave snail, Antroselates spiralis
  2. Weingartner’s cave flatworm, Sphalloplana weingartneri
  3. Barr’s cave amphipod, Crangonyx barri
  4. Devil’s graveyard cave amphipod, Styobromus undescribed sp.1
  5. Northern cave isopod, Caecidotea stygia
  6. Northern cave crayfish, Orconectes inermis
  7. Subterranean sheet-web spider, Phanetta subterranea
  8. Packard’s cave pseudoscorpion, Kleptochthonius packardi
  9. Blue River cave millipede, Pseudotermia indianae
  10. Sollman’s cave millipede, Scoterpes sollmani
  11. Cavernicoious springtail, Sinella cavernarum
  12. Indiana cave springtail, Sinella alata
  13. Fountain cave springtail, Pseudosinella fonsa
  14. Cave springtail, Arrhopalites undescribed sp. 1
  15. Lewis’ cave springtail, Arrhopalites lewisi
  16. Relict cave springtail, Tomocerus missus
  17. Cave springtail, Onychiurus undescribed sp.
  18. Cave dipluran, Litocampa undescribed sp. 1
  19. Blue River cave ground beetle, Pseudanophthalmus tenuis
  20. Cave dung fly, Spelobia tenebrarum
  21. Northern cavefish, Amblyopsis speleae