Stygofauna are aquatic organisms, which inhibit groundwater. Stygofauna communities are often dominated by crustacean invertebrates. This aquatic population also includes oligochaetes (worms), insects, snails and other invertebrate groups such as fish. These organisms are a great example of adaptation and ongoing evolutionary processes. Over millions of years stygofauna members developed specialised morphological and physiological adaptations. Stygofauna in an outstanding way adapted to life in environment characterised by constant darkness and limited food supply. Life in permanent darkness resulted in blindness and often complete absence of eyes, which function have been replaced by increased tactile and chemoreceptors. In order to survive in an environment of restricted food and oxygen availability, stygofauna became extremely energy efficient by eliminating skin colour and significantly slowing down metabolism. As a result, stygofauna’s lifespan increased; for example, the crayfish Orconectes australis of Shelta Cave in Alabama can reproduce at 100 years and live to 175.

Stygofauna aren’t a prominent component of World biodiversity though it is an important one. Stygofauna contributes to ecosystem’s health and water quality through process such as biochemical filtration. This family of organisms is scientifically extremely valuable and of conservationally significant as it contains many ancient linkages to species with no or very few surface-dwelling representatives. Stygofauna played important role in the evolution, hence stygofauna could help explain the aridification of Australia.

Stygofauna is adapted to the relative stability of their environment; hence, any small changes of the habitat condition may result in their extinction. Consequently, many species and communities are protected under state and commonwealth environmental legislation. Identification of stygofauna community’s composition is necessary in environmental impact assessment and approval for development projects in many Australian states and territories, including Queens

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