Subterranean rockland or stonefield (CV1)

About this ecosystem

Most caves form underground over hundreds of thousands to millions of years as groundwater slowly erodes rock. They are usually associated with carbonite parent materials (limestone, marble, dolomite) but can also form during volcanic eruptions when the lava is fluid.

Cave ecosystems maintain constant humidity and temperature relative to the average annual temperatures above ground.

In Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland, lava caves occur in association with basaltic volcanoes such as Rangitoto Island and Maungawhau / Mount Eden.

Flora and fauna in this ecosystem

Only a few species of flora grow in this ecosystem. The plant roots that make their way into the cave are an important source of food and habitat.

The unique fauna that lives in caves include:

  • insects
  • molluscs
  • spiders
  • glow worms. 

Threats to this ecosystem

This underground ecosystem doesn't experience as many threats as other ecosystems. The biggest threat is changes in the land above, including:

  • land development
  • deforestation.

Rats forage in caves and prey on native invertebrates, but the impact on populations is unknown.

Too little data exists for this ecosystem to be given a threat classification.