Response and resilience of karst subterranean estuary communities to precipitation impacts. Academic Article uri icon


  • The impact of meteorological phenomena on ecosystem communities of karst subterranean estuaries (KSEs) remains unknown. KSEs are characterized by vertically stratified groundwater separated by a halocline and host endemic aquatic cave-adapted fauna (stygobionts). In October 2015, 8days of heavy precipitation caused the first recorded mortality event in the KSE. This event was marked by a halocline shift 5m deeper. The present study aimed to provide insights into resilience of KSEs faunal communities to temporal shifts in temperature and precipitation. Cave water temperature decreased on average 0.0068C per mm of accumulated precipitation over 4days, which can add up to, and surpass, the interannual temperature variation in cases of heavy precipitations. Biological surveys (2012-2021) conducted within cave systems El Aerolito and La Quebrada, in Cozumel, indicated that change in community structure was not detected and stygobionts were resilient; however, marine species inhabiting the caves were impacted. Overall, the faunal community at KSEs remains resilient within short-term meteorological phenomena despite shifts of non-stygobionts.

published proceedings

  • Ecol Evol

author list (cited authors)

  • Caldern Gutirrez, F., Iliffe, T. M., Borda, E., Yez Mendoza, G., & Labont, J.

complete list of authors

  • Calderón Gutiérrez, Fernando||Iliffe, Thomas M||Borda, Elizabeth||Yáñez Mendoza, Germán||Labonté, Jessica

publication date

  • August 2023