EuroSpeleo 2016 Sessions

Amazing Caves: Amazing Microbes

Session code: OS1

Oral / Science, Main EuroSpeleo Conference

Dr Hazel Barton


Caves, by their nature, are aphotic and geologically isolated. It would therefore seem that the microbial ecology of these environments would be of limited interest. Yet it is the isolated nature of these environments that make them so fascinating to study. Not only do caves contain a remarkable and varied microbial ecosystem, but their very geologic isolation allows us to examine processes that cannot be studied elsewhere. The absence of disturbance (such as diurnal, seasonal or meteorological) allows us to study ecosystems that have been in equilibrium for thousands of years and reveal aspects of microbial evolution and physiology that would be impossible to study in surface ecosystems.


Professor of Biology and Geosciences at the University of Akron. Specializes in cave microbiology, particularly in deep, nutrient-limited cave systems.