Numerous groundwater ecosystems, including caves and karstic aquifers, are characterized by severely limited food supplies during most of the year because of the lack of autotrophic production and sporadic, unpredictable, allochthonous input. Because of the temporal and spatial patchiness of food availability in most cave biotopes, periods of prolonged starvation are common events in the life of subterranean (i.e. hypogean) organisms (Poulson, 1964; Hüppop, 1985; Hervant et al., 1997; Hervant et al., 1999). Several hypogean species are able to survive for long periods without food – nearly 1 year in invertebrates, and up to several years in cave fishes and salamanders (Poulson, 1964; Mathieu and Gibert, 1980; Hervant et al., 1997; Hervant et al., 1999). Periods of nutritional stress may influence both the geographic and temporal distribution of

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