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Student Publication on Cave Biodiversity

Buggytop cave entrance

Katie Wakefield (Biology, '13) published her cave biodiversity research in the journal Speleobiology Notes (Wakefield and Zigler 2012). Last summer Katie conducted the first biological survey of Buggytop (main entrance pictured above) and Tom Pack Caves, which are located in the Carter State Natural Area south of the Domain.

Tennessee, with nearly 10,000 known caves, has diverse cave communities, and Katie identified 16 cave-obligate species between the two caves - ranging from terrestrial species including spiders, millipedes, and beetles to aquatic species such as isopods, amphipods, and flatworms. Most exciting were observations of Tennessee Cave salamanders in both caves and a beetle from Tom Pack Cave that probably represents a species new to science.

Katie's work was supported by Sewanee and was permitted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.