Welcome to the Cave Animal of the Year – Portugal!
Cave animals are rare, difficult to observe, and very threatened by human activities at surface. They are adapted to the underground life in total darkness. Over the last millions of years, they have lost their eyes, wings and pigment, and have a very low metabolism and reduced fertility. Also their populations are small, therefore, they are extremely vulnerable do human impacts.
The International Cave Animal of the Year program raises attention for the poorly known animal diversity in subterranean habitats in general and with an international focus, thus contributing to global awareness of cave protection.
This inciative commenced in 2009 with the Cave Animal of the Year in Germany, and is included in the celebrations of the International Year of Caves and Karst.
Cave beetles were selected worldwide as target group for this year. Beetles are the most diverse group of animals in our planet, around a quarter of all animal diversity are beetles. They (order Coleoptera) are arthropods, they have a hard exoskeleton, six legs and two antennae. Beetles play a major role in terrestrial ecosystems, some have also evolved to live in water, moreover, they contribute to the global carbon cycling and to maintain the ecological balance of life in our planet.
Cave beetles are the most diverse group of insects in caves of Portugal. There are nine cave-adapted beetle species in continental Portugal, plus three in Madeira and eight in the Azores.
The “Portuguese predaceous cave-diving beetle”, Iberoporus pluto, is the Cave Animal of the Year 2021 – Portugal. It is the only cave-adapted beetle of Portugal that evolved to live in groundwater. It is known from a single cave in the Sicó karst area in central Portugal, and needs our protection.
We will be updating new contents soon, stay tuned!
DOWNLOAD IN ENGLISH the poster for the Cave Animal of the Year – Portugal.
DOWNLOAD IN PORTUGUESE the poster for the Cave Animal of the Year – Portugal
If you wish to participate and/or become a partner of the International Cave Animal of Portugal program, contact Prof. Ana Sofia Reboleira for more details.
Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Change (cE3c); Subterranean Ecology and Azorean Biodiversity groups.
Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
International Union of Speleology
Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas
Parque Natural das Serras d’Aire e Candeeiros
Agrupamento de Escolas Gil Eanes, Algarve
Ordem dos Biólogos, Portugal
Sociedade Portuguesa de Ecologia - SPECO
Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência - MUHNAC
Grutas de Mira de Aire