Aerobic karst caves



Aerobic karst caves are dark subterranean limestone caves that are air-filled and support simple, low productivity ecosystems (Keith et al., 2019). Owing to light limitation, there is a distinct lack of photosynthentic primary producers and herbivores, and Karst cave biota is therefore typically dominated by detritivores and a few predators. In Myanmar Karst caves are widespread (Waltham and Eavis, 2004). Subterranean streams and pools also occur within Karst voids. These are transitional subterranean- freshwater ecosystems that are distinct from the aerobic ecosystems with which they co-occur, and outside the scope of this assessment.

High degrees of endemism within, and diversity among isolated karstic hills, caves, and towers result from a multitude of ecological niches afforded by their complex terrain along with their highly fragmented habitat-island nature. The high levels of biodiversity and site-specific endemism in karst habitats rival those of most other habitats throughout the tropics, yet karstic regions are rapidly becoming some of the most imperilled ecosystems on the planet (Clements et al., 2006). Southeast Asia harbors more karst habitat than anywhere else on earth (Day and Ulrich, 2000) but unregulated and unsustainable quarrying practices continue to threaten their integrity and are the primary threat to the survival of karst-associated species.

Assessment summary

Although restricted across Myanmar, inferred threatening processes are unlikely to cause continuing declines of a non-negligible magnitude in extent. Limestone quarrying is a highly localised threat that warrants ongoing monitoring in this regard. Least Concern.