Primary faunal succession in volcanic terrain: lava and cave studies on the Canary Islands

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1992
Journal:Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Date Published:1992
ISBN Number:1095-8312
Keywords:aeolian ecosystems, arthropods, Canary islands, caves, Faunal succession, Fringillidae, lava flows, lavicole, Serinus, Serinus canaria, troglobite, volcanic habitats
Abstract:Invertebrate communities in volcanic habitats of different ages on the islands of La Palma and El Hierro were studied using standardized trapping and searching techniques. A variety of graphical and numerical approaches were used to analyse relationships among the sites. Young, barren lava flows constitute aeolian ecosystems with a fauna of generalized detritivores and predators, especially collembolans, earwigs, thysamirans and crickets. Surface samples have many individuals and low diversity; those from caves have smaller numbers but similar taxonomic composition. Vegetated surface habitats have richer communities, with diverse herbivores and predators but largely without the pioneer ‘lavicolous’ species. Caves with high humidity and stable temperature contain mainly specialized troglobitic species, but if there are both dry and humid sections lavicoles may also be present. Divergence into distinct epigean and hypogean communities results from both abiotic and biotic processes, including erosion and plant succession. While these occur mainly on the surface they also affect caves, increasing humidity and providing insulation from variations in external environmental conditions; the process is considered as a form of ‘maturation’ of the caves. Various models of succession are considered, which might help to account for the disappearance of lavicoles from mature epigean and hypogean communities.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith