- Cave ecosystems are very fragile because cave animals have evolved to survive in a very stable, unchanging environment.
- Caves themselves are also very fragile. The dissolving of limestone to form caves and its reverse, the deposition of pure calcite to form cave decorations (speleothems) depends on a very fine chemical equilibrium which either dissolves or deposits calcium carbonate.
- This equilibrium is influenced by the catchment above the cave including geology and soils, climate, the water cycle and vegetation.
- Inside the cave it is influenced by carbon dioxide levels, humidity, groundwater flow and temperature.
- Small changes by people to the catchments above caves or the caves themselves can have a major impact on the caves and their ecosystems.
Caves ecosystems are fragile because: