Running underneath the rolling hills of Tennessee lies a still-mysterious and remote network of caverns. Home to more than 8,000 caves, much of the state is considered karstland. This means the layers of rock under the soil are easily hollowed out by ground water through a slow dissolving process.
Many of those caves shelter fragile ecosystems. Biologist Jerry Lewis and Cory Holliday of The Nature Conservancy are helping to discover and protect some of those ecosystems from man’s destruction.
The allure of Tennessee’s subterranean world has led to many amateur expeditions. Some of those journeys have ended in tragedy — either from loss of human life, or destruction and disturbance of fragile cave ecosystems. For this reason, Lewis, his fellow biologists and serious cavers are reluctant to reveal the locations of some of their favorite spots.
Exploring Tennessee’s Caves for New Species
By David Kestenbaum