Fundamental research questions in subterranean biology

Type Article
Date 2020-12
Language English
Author(s) Mammola Stefano1, 2, Amorim Isabel R.3, Bichuette Maria E.4, Borges Paulo A. V.3, Cheeptham Naowarat5, Cooper Steven J. B.6, 7, Culver David C.8, Deharveng Louis9, Eme David10, Ferreira Rodrigo Lopes11, Fišer Cene12, Fišer Žiga12, Fong Daniel W.13, Griebler Christian14, Jeffery William R.15, Jugovic Jure16, Kowalko Johanna E.17, Lilley Thomas M.18, Malard Florian19, Manenti Raoul20, Martínez Alejandro2, Meierhofer Melissa B.18, 21, Niemiller Matthew L.22, Northup Diana E.23, Pellegrini Thais G.11, Pipan Tanja24, 25, Protas Meredith26, Reboleira Ana Sofia P. S.27, Venarsky Michael P.28, Wynne J. Judson29, Zagmajster Maja12, Cardoso Pedro1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Laboratory for Integrative Biodiversity Research (LIBRe), Finnish Museum of Natural History (LUOMUS), University of Helsinki, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13, Helsinki, 00100, Finland
2 : Molecular Ecology Group (MEG), Water Research Institute (IRSA), National Research Council (CNR), Corso Tonolli, 50, Pallanza, 28922, Italy
3 : cE3c – Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes/Azorean Biodiversity Group and Universidade dos Açores, Faculty of Agrarian and Environmental Sciences, Rua Capit~ao Jo~ao d’Àvila, Pico da Urze, Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, 9700-042, Portugal
4 : Laboratory of Subterranean Studies, Federal University of Sao Carlos, Rodovia Washington Luís km 235, S~ao Carlos, S~ao Paulo, 13565-905, Brazil
5 : Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Thompson Rivers University, 805 TRU Way, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
6 : Evolutionary Biology Unit, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia, 5000, Australia
7 : Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, and Environment Institute, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, 5005, Australia
8 : Department of Environmental Science, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC, 20016, U.S.A.
9 : UMR7205 – ISYEB, Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, 45 rue Buffon (CP50), Paris, 75005, France
10 : IFREMER Centre Atlantique, Unité Ecologie et Modèles pour l’Halieutique, Rue de l’Île d’Yeu, Nantes, 44980, France
11 : Center of Studies in Subterranean Biology, Biology Department, Federal University of Lavras, Campus Universitário, Lavras, Minas Gerais, CEP 37202-553, Brazil
12 : SubBio Lab, Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Jamnikarjeva 101, PO BOX 2995, Ljubljana, SI-1000, Slovenia
13 : Department of Biology, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC, 20016, U.S.A.
14 : Department of Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, Division of Limnology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, Vienna, 1090, Austria
15 : Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, U.S.A.
16 : Department of Biodiversity, Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies, University of Primorska, Glagoljaška 8, Koper, SI-6000, Slovenia
17 : Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University, 5353 Parkside Dr, Jupiter, FL, 33458, U.S.A.
18 : BatLab Finland, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13, Helsinki, 00100, Finland
19 : UMR5023 Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Naturels et Anthropisés, Univ. Lyon 1, ENTPE, CNRS, Université de Lyon, Bat. Forel, 6 rue Raphaël Dubois, Villeurbanne cedex, 69622, France
20 : Department of Environmental Science and Policy, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 26, Milan, 20113, Italy
21 : Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management, Texas A&M University, 534 John Kimbrough Blvd., College Station, TX, 77843, U.S.A.
22 : Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, 301 Sparkman Drive NW, Huntsville, AL, 35899, U.S.A.
23 : Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 87131-0001, U.S.A.
24 : ZRC SAZU Karst Research Institute, Novi trg 2, Ljubljana, SI-1000, Slovenia
25 : UNESCO Chair on Karst Education, University of Nova Gorica, Vipavska cesta, Nova Gorica, 5000, Slovenia
26 : Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Domenicas University of California, 50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael, CA, 94901, U.S.A.
27 : Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, Copenhagen, 2100, Denmark
28 : Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, Queensland, 4111, Australia
29 : Department of Biological Sciences, Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes, Northern Arizona University, Box 5640, Flagstaff, AZ, 86011, U.S.A.
Source Biological Reviews (1464-7931) (Wiley), 2020-12 , Vol. 95 , N. 6 , P. 1855-1872
DOI 10.1111/brv.12642
WOS© Times Cited 50
Keyword(s) biospeleology, cave biology, expert opinion, groundwater, horizon scanning, research questions, stygofauna, troglobionts

Five decades ago, a landmark paper in Science titled The Cave Environment heralded caves as ideal natural experimental laboratories in which to develop and address general questions in geology, ecology, biogeography, and evolutionary biology. Although the ‘caves as laboratory’ paradigm has since been advocated by subterranean biologists, there are few examples of studies that successfully translated their results into general principles. The contemporary era of big data, modelling tools, and revolutionary advances in genetics and (meta)genomics provides an opportunity to revisit unresolved questions and challenges, as well as examine promising new avenues of research in subterranean biology. Accordingly, we have developed a roadmap to guide future research endeavours in subterranean biology by adapting a well‐established methodology of ‘horizon scanning’ to identify the highest priority research questions across six subject areas. Based on the expert opinion of 30 scientists from around the globe with complementary expertise and of different academic ages, we assembled an initial list of 258 fundamental questions concentrating on macroecology and microbial ecology, adaptation, evolution, and conservation. Subsequently, through online surveys, 130 subterranean biologists with various backgrounds assisted us in reducing our list to 50 top‐priority questions. These research questions are broad in scope and ready to be addressed in the next decade. We believe this exercise will stimulate research towards a deeper understanding of subterranean biology and foster hypothesis‐driven studies likely to resonate broadly from the traditional boundaries of this field

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Mammola Stefano, Amorim Isabel R., Bichuette Maria E., Borges Paulo A. V., Cheeptham Naowarat, Cooper Steven J. B., Culver David C., Deharveng Louis, Eme David, Ferreira Rodrigo Lopes, Fišer Cene, Fišer Žiga, Fong Daniel W., Griebler Christian, Jeffery William R., Jugovic Jure, Kowalko Johanna E., Lilley Thomas M., Malard Florian, Manenti Raoul, Martínez Alejandro, Meierhofer Melissa B., Niemiller Matthew L., Northup Diana E., Pellegrini Thais G., Pipan Tanja, Protas Meredith, Reboleira Ana Sofia P. S., Venarsky Michael P., Wynne J. Judson, Zagmajster Maja, Cardoso Pedro (2020). Fundamental research questions in subterranean biology. Biological Reviews, 95(6), 1855-1872. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :