Ogdens Cave seems almost perfectly isolated from the rolling farmlands above. Light only reaches in a few yards and, at times, a stream near the entrance rises to the low ceiling to completely close off the passage. It hardly seems possible that the cave's chilled, damp recesses could support any form of life. In reality though, as with other caves, Ogdens Cave is intimately connected to the outside world. And because of those outside connections, a surprisingly diverse ecosystem is sustained within.
Nutrients that support that ecosystem arrive by several means. The stream in Ogdens Cave is actually a subterranean branch of Buffalo Marsh Run, which flows overland nearby. A significant portion of Buffalo Marsh Run sinks underground and delivers bits of organic matter to invertebrate communities among the cave stream's cobbles and along its riparian zone. Other cave invertebrate communities receive nutrients from water that percolates down from the surface and accumulates in drip pools throughout the cave. Other nutrients are delivered by animals, such as bats and crickets, which come and go from the cave, their dung and occasional corpses adding to the invertebrates'smorgasbord.
Five rare species - two amphipods, an isopod, a springsnail and a beetle - are among the invertebrates that live in Ogdens' subterranean communities. By establishing Ogdens Cave Natural Area Preserve an important part of Virginia's biodiversity has been protected. The preserve was made possible by the cooperative efforts of the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias, The Nature Conservancy, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the landowner's family, and helpful neighbors; and by the citizens of Virginia with the State Parks and Natural Areas 2002 General Obligation Bond.
Ogdens Cave Natural Area Preserve is closed to general visitation to protect the delicate natural communities and species which inhabit the cave.
By Arrangement with Steward
Adam Christie , Shenandoah Valley Region Steward, (540) 332-9226 or Wil Orndorff, Cave/Karst Stewardship Specialist, (540) 553-1235
Department of Conservation & Recreation
Division of Natural Heritage
Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program
600 E. Main St., 24th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219