Surprising life in depth of black coal mine!

The PRG base is located in an anthropogenic landscape, where heavy industry and mining activities has dominated in last decades. It is obvious that these activities have affected insects’ life. Due to intensive industrial activity, some species became extinct, on the contrary some other species found new and sometimes unexpected habitats.

The mining industry has a long-time tradition in the Ostrava-Karviná coal district. Nevertheless the active mining finished recently in the most of mines. The last still active mine is Darkov Mine in Karviná. The work of miners is very hard, but surprisingly one miner (Ing. Ladislav Húska) contacted us with information about occurrence of crickets (Acheta domestica) inside the active mine. It was obvious we had to examine it in situ! The OKD Company permitted our visit and we went down to the underground galleries system. We moved about 800 m underground where we found biological material.

We spent approximately one hour underground where we collected tens of individuals of A. domestica. Some of them were conserved immediately for further analyses and some of them were saved alive for behavioral studies. Currently we investigate what they were feeding on, how many generations grew up underground (there is 10-15 (!) years old isolated population in the mine) and if some physiological or morphological changes occurred (there is an extremely dusty and noisy environment in the mine and crickets live in permanent darkness and in fluctuating gas composition of air).

Except A. domestica population, we found abundant populations of Lepisma saccharina and Protracheoniscus major (first record for Moravia!) in the mine.

We thank management of Darkov Mine for permission to explore such interesting phenomenon.

Photo:

Důl Darkov
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