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ODU's Holsinger Reappointed by Governor to Virginia Cave Board

John Holsinger, the Old Dominion University Eminent Scholar and professor of biological sciences, was reappointed to the Virginia Cave Board in June by Gov. Timothy Kaine. He has been a member almost continuously since the General Assembly formed the board in 1979.

The scientist, who joined ODU in 1968, is respected worldwide for his work in caves and karst. (Karst is the geological term for the irregular limestone terrain containing sinkholes, underground streams and caves.)

Holsinger is best known for painstaking research to document species of subterranean amphipod crustaceans, specimens of which float in alcohol in hundreds of jars in his laboratory. The creatures resemble shrimp or crayfish. A number of cave-adapted invertebrate animals, including species of amphipods, isopods, spiders and snails, have the official Latin name holsingeri. Two genera, an amphipod and a snail, are named Holsingerius and Holsingeria, respectively.

The reappointment will extend Holsinger's service on the Cave Board through 2012.

The legislature has asked the board to conserve and protect the state's 4,400 documented caves. In an interview last year, Holsinger said he is proud of the board's efforts to preserve Virginia's caves. "We try to influence zoning and conservation management, and have gone so far as to convince the highway department to route roads away from sensitive karst areas," he said.

The board also deals with more mundane threats, such as damage done by people who dump garbage in caves, destroy geological formations, write on walls or commit other acts of vandalism. One way the board members influence public policy is through cave educational programs it promotes in schools. The board lobbied successfully for passage of the Virginia Cave Protection Act.

This article was posted on: June 20, 2008

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