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Subterranean environments have historically been considered semi-isolated ecosystems, where external factors, both physical and biological, have a limited influence. Anchialine ecosystems occur globally in flooded coastal caves and sinkholes, also considered subterranean estuaries, one of the main ...

Subterranean environments have historically been considered semi-isolated ecosystems, where external factors, both physical and biological, have a limited influence. Anchialine ecosystems occur globally in flooded coastal caves and sinkholes, also considered subterranean estuaries, one of the main characteristics is a density stratification where the mixing of fresh and marine-derived waters hosts a particular stygobiont biodiversity (cave-adapted). This habitat is intimately linked to meteorological and oceanic conditions (e.g., precipitation, storms, and tides), which influence environmental parameters (e.g., water temperature, dissolved oxygen, organic matter availability, pH, and salinity), and have a direct impact on stygobiont communities at different time scales. The stygobiont biodiversity tends to be highly endemic, limited to anchialine caves and pools and faces growing pressures due to groundwater extraction, pollution, and coastal habitat change. Understanding the impacts that external variations may pose to the anchialine ecosystems is paramount in order to address conservation or mitigation actions.



Anchialine ecosystems have been regarded as natural laboratories, where environmental conditions are stable through time, however, recent studies have shown that some subterranean estuaries have recently been formed and stygobiont adaptation may have been relatively fast. Density stratification may furthermore, play an important role in the ecology and physiology of stygobiont communities and have a deep impact on biogeochemical processes within these habitats.



This Research Topic aims to integrate research that links changes in the environment to biogeochemical, ecological, or physiological processes occurring within anchialine ecosystems, which may induce a response in stygobionts.



We propose that this volume include original research articles, reviews, and theoretical articles about the relationships that exist between marine environmental changes and their effects on anchialine environments.



Addressing the following topics:



- Biochemical process in anchialine systems defined by external effects

- Physiological responses in anchialine organism, concerning external oceanological conditions

- Ecological process in anchialine environments concerning external marine conditions

- Resilience in anchialine environments according to anthropogenic pressures and change in marine conditions

Keywords: Marine Connections, Anchialine Ecosystems, Stygofauna, Ecology, Ecophysiology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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