Book Review - CAVES & CAVE LIFE

Phil Chapman, Harper/Collins New Naturalists Series 1993,
219 pages, 97 illustrations, £27.50 hardback, £12.99 softback.

This nicely produced little book has recieved little attention since its publication, but it not only fills an important gap in the caving literature, ie. that of cave biology, but it also provides an excellent introduction to caves in general.

In the first chapter, the history of caving is considered together with the ethos that drives people to explore and study them. Chapter two considers the cave habitat and attempts to define a cave. Subsequent chapters consider the cave areas of the British Isles, cave fauna and flora with specific reference to Britain, the various types of cave life communities, and caves through the Pleistocene including human occupation. The book concludes with a chapter on the future of caves covering aspects of cave conservation and protection.

I like this book. It is written with an easy, not too technical, style by an author who has a deep understanding of caves as a natural environment rather than just an object for sporting achievement. Its cost as a hardback unfortunately renders it out of reach for the casual purchaser, but the paperback is reasonably affordable. It would make a handsome addition to any caving bookshelf.

Allan Ockenden