Students will learn to:
Describe elements and conditions that can effect cavern life.
Explain the three zones of a cavern system and the differences of each zone that can effect cavern life.
Animal and plant species must adapt to live in different conditions. Some animals and plant life are unable to adapt to certain conditions and are, therefore, unable to sustain life in environments with those conditions. For instance, deserts with their harsh heat and dry conditions are not hospitable to penguins, yet the ice cold, humid conditions of the Polar Regions are ideal for penguins.
There are many ecosystems above ground. A cavern system has its own ecosystem that is different from any above ground environment. Because it is sheltered, outside conditions have very little effect on a cavern's environment. While above ground ecosystems are affected throughout the year by the seasons, most of the time a cavern is not. Therefore, caverns have a unique, constant environment.
In addition to the lack of environmental changes, there are other aspects that effect the living conditions in a cavern system. Because caverns are between the surface and the water table, they are in the direct path of water that filters from the surface down to the water table. Since the water cannot evaporate out of the cavern, it tends to stay humid.