"In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, researchers have discovered about 30 species of eye-opening cave creatures.
One of the scientists making these discoveries received her doctorate from the University of Texas.
Biologist Jean Krejca entered her first cave 20 years ago.
"The idea that you could go where no one has gone before, that kind of exploration, that sort of, you know, frontierism, really doesn't exist in that many places that are easily accessible on the surface," Krejca said. "You know, you could go climb some really remote mountaintop or explore the deep sea with a really fancy submarine, but this is something you can do with a helmet and a light and a pair of boots."
In her research, Krejca uses genetic markers to follow invertebrates as they move underground through cave connections so small that humans can't pass through.
"How water flows down Onion Creek in South Austin and comes out Barton Springs is a bit of a black box," Krejca said. "How does it all work down there, exactly where the passages are and where they aren't? And, of course, it's really important to know all that, so we can tell if we're developing on the recharge zone or if we're impacting an area that's really sensitive, because the water flows from here to there, and this is where we get our drinking water from and that sort of thing."
KXAN Austin News' Jim Swift said he didn't hear Krejca say a word about the bugs underground and their well being.
"I think what, what drives the point home to most people is something that impacts them most directly," Krejca said. "But what a lot of people don't realize until you've studied biology for a really long time is actually that preserving the critters for the sake of preserving the critters is ultimately important."
"To us?" Swift asked.
"To us, exactly, is it ultimately important to people?" Krejca replied.
Krejca's work has taken her around the world where she has been stung and bitten by scorpion and spider, alike.
She is based in Buda, where she is co-owner of consulting company Zara Environmental.
"Do you work for developers, or do you work for critics of developers, or both?" Swift asked.
"We've worked on both sides," Krejca said. "You know, I'm a scientist, and I like to feel that we collect data, and we take that data and present it to people in an unbiased way. Just the facts is what we're after."
Krejca's work can be found in this month's issue of National Geographic."
Text from: Kxan.com