We report data on the spatial structure and seasonal variation of the community of Valmarino cave, a medium sized sandstone cave, located a few kilometres from the coast line, in Central Italy. Due to both its habitat features and its relatively recent geological history, Valmarino cave is only inhabited by terrestrial, troglophilic elements, i.e facultative cave dwellers. By means of monthly censuses and density plot estimates we have investigated species abundance, diversity and their spatial organization, by considering separately samples from different cave sectors. Homogeneous sampling design allowed to compare series of samplings performed in 1974 and 1994. On the whole 21 arthropods and one snail species constitute the cave community. Ordination plots resulting from correspondence analyses of monthly samples outline a distinct spatial and temporal structure. Two main sub-communities can be identified: an inner subcommunity, mainly represented by eu-troglophilic species, showing a remarkable stability throughout the year and an outer sub-community, mainly represented by sub-troglophilic species, showing strong seasonal variation. Both spatial and temporal vectors show similar importance in shaping the community structure. An interesting result of this study is the long term stability of both spatial and seasonal components of the community structure which remained almost identical after 20 years, as shown by the comparison of ordination plots obtained from 1974 and 1994 sampling series. Therefore this study provides empirical evidence of a frequently hypothesised, albeit never demonstrated feature of the cave ecosystem.
Di Russo, Claudio; Gianmaria Carchini; Mauro Rampini; Marco Lucarelli; and Valerio Sbordoni.
Long term stability of a terrestrial cave community.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol26/iss1/7