Société Internationale de Biospéologie International Society for Subterranean Biology

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Société Internationale de Biospéologie

International Society for Subterranean Biology


Newsletter 6, 2004-2006

Report by the former President (1999-2004) Giuseppe Messana p. 2

President’s words (2004-2006) Boris Sket p. 4

Report on Symposium Raipur p. 5

Report on the GENERAL ASSEMBLY held on November 29, 2004, Raipur (India) p. 7

Report on the SIBIOS Council Meeting held on November 29, 2004, Raipur (India) p. 12

SIBIOS Council 2004-2006 p. 14

Report of the Council Meeting held on 19 February 2006, Ljubljana (Slovenia) p. 16

Agenda of the General Assembly Cluj Romania July 2006 p. 20

18 International Symposium of Biospeleology Cluj (Romania) p. 26

List of Sibios members April 2006 p. 28

Table Council 2004-2006 p. 44

Table Council 2006-2008 p. 45

SIBIOS Newsletter

Editor: Graham S. Proudlove

Redaction: Jean-Jacques Geoffroy


This Newsletter is readable and downlable on



Giuseppe MESSANA, president 1999-2004
Dear Colleagues, since Verona, our XVI ISB, the life of the Society has been full of events, some positive others unfavourable or sad. Such as the passing away of three of our outstanding members, Bruno Condé, Lucien Genest and Thomas Kane. Three lives dedicated to biospeleology. Each with his characteristics and way of approaching to research and life. I do know little about the personality of Bruno and Tom, but I will never ever forget the endless exhilarating tales Lucien was able to tell us about his biospeleological adventures.

You will find their obituaries on the volume of Subterranean Biology just printed.


Many new members joined the society after each Symposium since 2001 and several resigned sometimes also because in the last three years, due to our reform we had several problems of communication. Nonetheless the situation of the members is quite fluid for the moment, because we are trying to clean up a long list which has continued to grow in time without a true control. We have now about 90 members from 32 countries.

Financial Status

I do not enter in deep on this, because Janine Gibert will give you the details. I have only to say that our status is good and permits us, to print the journal, enhance our editorial activity and to give a small sustain for young researchers. I do hope this will be the new standard for the society and perhaps it will be even improved.

Editorial activity

In Verona we decided to change several aspects of our journal: the editorial board, the title and possibly the standard. The new journal, Subterranean Biology after a difficult start has found a better equilibrium. The second volume has been printed in due time and is being mailed these days to all the members who have paid their 2004 fees. The important news is that Zoological Records have shown interest in the journal that is mailed to them too.

The newsletters too, have had a difficult start and I hope that at the end of the year we will receive the last edition as promised. I would like to remember anyway that the newsletters are made not only by their editor, but the contribution of any member of the society is needed. So please send news to Graham Proudlove.

We have had several proposals for publishing books on various topics of Subterranean Biology. Our next task will be the publication of the book on subterranean fishes By Graham Proudlove who said he has at last finished it. Christian Juberthie has announced that he is preparing a second edition of the Volume 1 of the Encyclopaedia Biospeleleogica, and may be he will ask the Society to publish it. We look forward to receiving it. The next Council will discuss other proposals.

Web page

Jean Jacques Geoffroy has improved the web page and I do hope it will be still ameliorated in the future, following the format prepared in 2001 by Jos Notenboom and myself.

International contacts

Our society is acting and having more and more visibility at an international level and this can be measured by the requests of sponsorships or sustain and consulting received in the last two years. To cite some:

  1. We have been asked to give our advice and the council has duly expressed it concerning the proposal for the creation of a laboratory on Karst Studies under the support of the UNESCO, in Guilin China. This was the subsequent step of an UNESCO IGP Project to which myself, as President of the SIBIOS, had been asked to participate as one of the co leaders. A task I will pass along to my successor right now.

  2. Our sustain and sponsorship has been granted also to the Vietrenica Project and Karst laboratory which is being constructed there.

  3. A sponsorship have been requested and granted for the Otomba Project (Equador) by our colleague Caoduro. A research and co-operative project on Amazons subterranean biodiversity.

  4. The participation of members of our society had been requested in one session, “Correlation of World karts ecosystems” within the 32IGC held in Florence in August 2004. The information was on the web page of the society. Janine Gibert was invited to take a lecture on the topic.

  5. The Society had been invited by the Spanish Speleological Society to participate to the “Centenary of the discovery of Typhlocirolana by E. Racovitza at the Baleares, in September 2004. A few members of our society did participate.

Protocol of Understanding with the Plataforme Technique de Moulis

In recent years we had the sensation that our links with the Laboratoire souterrain de Moulis or Plateau technique Moulis as it’s called by now, the place where our society was born, where all our memoirs and goods are deposited, had been loosened a lot. Juberthie had retired and had no more the access to the Laboratory. The old director contacted in 2001 did not showed the minimum interest in the Society which, as you well know, has deposited in the years, in the library of the Laboratoire, more than 100 titles of exchanged journals.

With this concern I contacted the new director in November 2003, organised a meeting of the Council in Moulis to discuss with him, obtained a general agreement and the promise to present it to the CNR direction. Unfortunately the preparation of the definitive Protocol of understanding was delayed and I cannot present it to you. Of this I do regret and apologize with you all.

Nonetheless it is not important the person who begins or finishes something, but what has been done. So the most important thing is that the Society will succeed in having sometimes this Protocol signed and that it contain the terms we have agreed upon for the visibility, presence and sustain of the Society within the Plateau Technique de Moulis.

This is my last report as President of the Society. I would like to thank all of you for the patience and support you have given me.

The members of the Council for their sustain any time I asked for it and the General Secretary and Treasurer for their efforts in the good conduction of the society. To Marina Cobolli who had the difficult task to produce a new journal with all the difficulties she had.

I have tried to make and effort to conduct our society to a fuller international status. I do not know if I have succeeded. Of course the process begun in Rome and continued in Florence, with the election of Jacob Parzefal as first non French President of the Société de Biospéologie, several years ago has still some road to go and will be completed step by step in due time.
I thank you all and give you my best wishes for a future full of satisfactions for our Society.

Ciao a tutti


by Boris SKET
Dear members of SIBIOS,

dear colleagues and friends,
it is rather frustrating to be able to address you first nearly two years after the election and less than two months before the next meeting. I would accuse the total breakdown of our communication system, but I will not discuss this topic further. Anyway, this is the first problem the new (or renovated) Council has to solve. To be able to do something serious.

In the past two years our community was active as always, through the activity of its members and particularly through the activity of some enthusiastic 'officers'. The Council even succeeded to meet this February in the cold Ljubljana. I say 'even succeeded' because it is not easy to decide to call the people scattered over all continents. Well, most really did not attend, but we obtained some preliminary opinions and/or exculpations from Australia, South America, Asia and (northern) Africa, while the North American David C. even participated, very actively. So did most Europeans; appreciate. We identified all the problems we meet and you will read in this Newsletter the Minutes of the meeting; so I understand our General Secretary.

Our journal continued to be issued and shaped itself (well, it was shaped); I hope that Marina is going to continue her successful mission. Our financial status is not too bad, but Janine is forced to leave the treasurer's position and she would like to close some unresolved (not by her guilt) questions before. With some good will, this will be easy to achieve. Let's hope we get a good succcessor. This will allow us to continue also issuing some 'special editions', like the already prepared Cave Fishes and the second edition of Encyclopaedia Biospeologica which is in preparation by Christian.

Due to the efforts of Oana and her colleagues in Romania we expect a pleasant and successful meeting in Cluj very soon. I know Romania; it is a very nice and interesting country with a number of important speleobiologists. Starting with Racovitza (do not forget the Centenary of his Essai!) and not finishing with our Oana. We have to renew there the Council, which will not be a difficult task. Most of its members agreed to be candidates again – which does not mean that they can not be replaced by refreshing ones; but just three members have to be replaced by our rules, among them even the very active vice-president David. And the place of the next meeting, in 2008, is already assured. I hope that Jean-Jacques sent a formal letter of approval to Bill to Western Australia, as the Council decided. And anyway, that Bill is continuing preparations (and his speleobiological investigations) in his extremely interesting country.

Yes, some other problems remain and they will be a burden to the new Council. The prepared memorandum in support of the Vjetrenica action of our friends in Bosnia-and-Herzegovina did not reach the addressee. It is to be regretted. The agreement with the Moulis Laboratory has not yet been settled, in spite of the very serious attempts of our vice-president Louis. However, negotiations are in progress, the process is not dead; finally, it is also not easy to decide where to move the lots of printed paper which is still of great value and should be accessible to the Society and to the members. And, of course, our communication means, the web page and the newsletter...

As already told, it was not easy to decide how to address you and what to tell you in this special situation. Maybe I will be able to add something when we meet in Cluj. It will be soon. And I hope to meet there all of you. Or, at least the majority of yours. I'm looking forward to experience this.

Finally, I have to tell this from my hart, in my own words,

prisrčno pozdravljeni!

Boris SKET
A REPORT ON THE XVIIth International Symposium of Bbiospeleology, Raipur India, 2004

by Atanu Kumar PATI
Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, in the auspices of International Society of Subterranean Biology, organized the XVII International Symposium on Biospeleology, from 25-30 November 2004 ( Prof. Atanu Kumar Pati of School of Life Sciences, convener, coordinated the activities of the symposium.
Biospeleology is the discipline that deals with the study of subterranean organisms, commonly referred as hypogean species. They inhabit caves, caverns or comparable subterranean niche. Caves can also be subdivided into several ecological zones, such as the entrance zone, twilight zone and dark zone. Most caves are characterized by perpetual darkness, constant temperature and humidity. Deep caves tend to have scarce and unpredictable resources. They offer a unique ecosystem that does not possess autotrophs at the base of the food chain.
Cave faunas show varying degree of adaptation to subterranean life and have been thought to evolve in isolation. The evolutionary origin of tropical cave faunas has not yet been understood properly. Nonetheless, caves offer excellent opportunities to study morphology, biodiversity, molecular taxonomy, developmental biology, physiology and behaviour of hypogean species and to have comparisons with those of the surface-dwelling species (epigean). However, very little is known about the Indian caves and cave faunas. In addition caves provide immense opportunity to study biotechnological prospects of microbes, several of these are expected to be new species. It is therefore important to initiate and promote research in biospeleology and subterranean biology in India that may have thousands of known; known, but biologically unexplored; unknown; and unexplored caves.
XVII International Symposium on Biospeleology provided a platform to about 60 foreign and 20 Indian participants for discussion/ interaction in different areas of biospeleology. There were about 14 plenary lectures, 35 oral presentations and 20 poster presentations by the experts and participants. Sessions were divided mainly in the areas of Biogeography; Ecology & Hydrobiology; Biodiversity; Cavefish; Collembola & Oligochaetes; Systematics & Evolution; Isopoda, Copepods & Millipedes; Tropical Biodiversity; Groundwater Fauna; and Speleology & Others.
In India, work on cave organisms is mainly carried out at two centers, namely Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, and Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur. At the former, M.K. Chandrashekaran (now at JNCASR, Bangalore) initiated circadian rhythm studies in cave dwelling bats. The first printed research paper on circadian rhythm in these bats appeared in 19771. Subsequently the group under the leadership of M.K. Chandrashekaran published several landmark papers on circadian mechanisms of cave bat, Hipposideros speoris and cave dwelling millipede, Glyphiulus cavernicolus sulu2. At the latter place (Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur), S.M. Agrawal and A.K. Pati initiated studies on behavioral ecology and physiology of subterranean organisms. A.K. Pati and his group studied the circadian rhythms in a hypogean fish Nemacheilus evezardi (inhabitant of Kotumsar cave) and published many papers3-6.
On November 26, 2004, W.F. Humphreys delivered the opening lecture on subterranean biology in arid Australia. In his lecture he emphasized about the subterranean faunal diversity and their affinities and radiations. He also highlighted that the troglobite and stygobite fauna are relicts from the fauna of more humid climate, both temperate and tropical. He pointed out that in some cases, once adaptation to the subterranean habitat occurred, then colonization of vacant niches appears to have occurred promoting speciation within the subterranean ecosystem. In this session two oral presentations were delivered highlighting the biogeography of subterranean beetles of Slovenia and stygobitic Crustaceans and Isopods from Australia. In the afternoon session, B. Sket raised a question, in his plenary talk, on ecological classification of subterranean animals. He pointed out that the ecological classification of subterranean animals is restrained by the degree of distinctness of the relevant characteristics, and by the state of our knowledge of the species’ or population’s biology. Two oral presentations were delivered during this session. One plenary lecture and five oral presentations were delivered in the evening session.
On November 27, 2004, the second day of academic session, four plenary lectures and twelve oral presentations were delivered. D.C. Culver eloquently demonstrated about the struggle, biospeleologists usually experience, to measure subterranean biodiversity. In his talk he shed light on both the sampling problems, and several approaches that can minimize their impact. W.R. Jeffery spoke on the developmental mechanisms of evolutionary change in cavefish Astynanx mexicanus (eyeless and de-pigmented forms). He explained that about 130 key regulatory and structural genes are functional and expressed in cavefish, including those structural genes at the termini of eye development pathways. However, he also demonstrated that a small subset of regulatory genes shows changes in expression patterns suggesting significant roles in cavefish evolution and development. J. Parzefall elucidated the behavioral ecology in cave dwelling fishes. He pointed out that comparing the behavioral changes of feeding, reproductive, aggressive as well as schooling and alarm behavior in cavefishes of different taxa with their epigean relatives one can find that some can survive in darkness without behavioral adaptations. L. Deharveng talked about subterranean biodiversity in Southeast Asia. He pointed out that Southeast Asia progressively emerged as very rich in cave-restricted species compared to other tropical regions; however, our knowledge of cave biology in Southeast Asia is limited. In one of the oral presentation sessions of this day, A.K. Pati elegantly shed light on the circadian organization of hypogean fish, Nemacheilus evezardi. In his talk, he emphasized a bimodal rhythm in locomotor activity in the LD-acclimated N. evezardi. He further explained a faint endogenous circadian component under DD and also provides evidence in support of non-photic stimuli as effective time cues for circadian rhythm in locomotor activity in N. evezardi.
On November 28, 2004, the third day of academic session, two plenary lectures and seven oral presentations were delivered under the areas of Isopoda, Copepods & Millipedes and Tropical Biodiversity. Plenary speaker J.R. Holsinger delivered an interesting lecture on diversity of subterranean amphipod in southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. He talked about members of five families. E. Trajano delivered an interesting talk on the tropical versus temperate subterranean fauna. She concluded that the main putative difference between tropical and temperate subterranean faunas regarding richness of troglobites, mechanisms of speciation, and food input to the hypogean environment do not apply to Brazil, a typical tropical country.
On November 29, 2004, the fourth day of academic session, three plenary lectures and one oral presentation were delivered under the areas of Groundwater Fauna. L. Latella delivered a lecture on the biodiversity in tropical and subtropical caves of China. G. Marimuthu delivered his lecture on the locomotor activity pattern of a cave-dwelling millipede Glyphiulus cavernicolus. He pointed out that G. cavernicolus is in the process of regression of circadian rhythms. A session was dedicated for about 20 poster presentations.
The most remarkable event of this symposium was an interaction between school children and biospeleologists. M. Singh, P. Nath and N.K. Subhedar jointly chaired this session. Panelists were G. Messana (Italy), V. Sbordoni (Italy), J. Parzefall (Germany), W.R. Jeffery (USA), B. Sket (Slovenia), J.R. Holsinger (USA), E. Trajano (Brazil), D.A. Hubbard Jr. (USA), W.F. Humphreys (Australia) and C. Ribera (Spain). Students were very much curious and had several questions about this fascinating domain “Biospeleology”. The questions raised by the students were: What is Biospeleology? How caves form? What types of cave are there in different countries? Are they same? Why temperature & humidity remain constant in caves? What adaptation is must to live in cave environment? What role do the subterranean organisms play in the eco-system? Do different species communicate with each other in the cave? What is the use of Biospeleology? What is future plan about research in biospeleology and many more? The panelists gave answers of all the questions elegantly.
Two plenary lectures and five oral presentations were delivered on November 30, 2004, the last day of academic session, under the areas of Speleology & Others. K.N. Prasad delivered a lecture on the Kurnool caves of Pleistocene age in Andhra Pradesh. M.G. Yadava in his lecture pointed out that past-monsoon rainfall reconstruction (> 1000 yr) could be made either by using tree rings or speleothems (carbonate deposits). He said that in their laboratory they have reconstructed the past rainfall over ~3400 years by studying speleothems collected from Gupteswar and Dandak caves (Orissa and Chhattisgarh). He further pointed out that at ~600 yr BP there was higher rainfall pattern as compared to the present day. He highlighted the importance of his studies on speleothems.
Another exciting event of the symposium was an organized visit to Kotumsar cave in the tribal district of Bastar. About 40 foreign and 10 Indian delegates visited the cave. It is a massive cave with speleothems (mineral deposit or formation found in caves, such as stalactites and stalagmites) and a natural stream. The visit was exciting as it provided an opportunity for onsite observation of cave life. With flashlights it was possible to see hypogean fish, crickets, amphibians and many other invertebrate species.

XVII International Symposium on Biospeleology generated a lot of enthusiasm among the participants on the prospects of pursuing biospeleology research in India as well as in other countries.

The University Grants Commission, New Delhi; Department of Science & Technology, New Delhi; Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi; Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, New Delhi; Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi; Chhattisgarh Council of Science & Technology, Chhattisgarh, sponsored the symposium.

The hon’ble minister of Higher Education, Govt. of Chhattisgarh, inaugurated the symposium and the His Excellency, the Governor of Chhattisgarh, India, delivered the valedictory address. Honorable Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh hosted a gala dinner in the honor of the distinguished delegates of the XVII International Symposium on Biospeleology.

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