Endemics

We have a large diversity of life inside and on the surface of the cave. The Klamath Siskiyou bio-region has at least 30 endemic cave invertebrates. Here at Oregon Caves we have at least 8 likely endemics. This is not surprising since caves all around the world shelter rare organisms that could not survive away from home.

What does endemic mean? Native or confined to a certain limited area, in other words, some things are found here that can't be found anywhere else! Endemics often develop as the result of learning how to survive in unique environments. Sometimes they get so good at special survival skills they become totally dependent and must spend their entire lives within that one habitat.

We know that most life on Earth gets its basic energy from the sun and from plant life. Caves are low energy environments with little sunlight or food sources coming in.
 
Entrance Web
 
Cave critters have evolved ways to save or acquire energy. They manage to live longer, move more efficiently, and have a higher survival rate for the young (usually with a few large eggs and long term caring of their young). Many cave-adapted species save energy by reducing or altogether eliminating vision and pigments (often becoming blind and pale in color). Most have developed longer limbs, bodies and/or antenna than their surface species siblings. Their body changes help them find food faster in darkness.

It is common to find springtails along the tour route. But visitors don't notice them unless their guide points them out. Guess what size a cave springtail is? How big do you think a cave cricket can grow?
 
Cave-Cricket-Springtail

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Cave Junction, OR 97523

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