We report on preliminary findings from the first biospeleological expedition undertaken between 6 and 19 April 2011 in caves of the Toledo District, southern Belize. Also included is a review of the present state of knowledge of subterranean invertebrates in Belize, with no prior data being available for the Toledo District.
During the April 2011 expedition, we sampled more than 1,150 invertebrates, representing more than 80 unique taxa, recorded from 7 caves in the Toledo District of Belize. This material includes a number of species already determined to be new to science, including various arachnids, crustaceans, and insects.
The findings of this study form the beginnings of a foundation for future work, which can help inform decision-making regarding cave resources. Caves in Belize are an important socioeconomic resource – they support ecotourism, harbor unique archeological resources. In serving as conduits for water, organic materials, and contaminants, these caves also play important roles within the landscape. The data from the present study, and future biospeleological work will provide land managers and agency personnel with better knowledge of important cave resources in Belize.
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