Biological studies on factors shaping underground communities are poor, especially those considering simultaneously organisms with different degrees of adaptation to cave life. In this study, we assessed the annual dynamics and use of both horizontal and vertical microhabitats of a whole community with the aim of understanding whether cave-dwelling organisms have a similar distribution among vertical and ground-level microhabitats and to find out which microhabitat features influence such distribution. We monthly assessed from 2017 to 2018, by direct observation combined with quadrat sampling method on the ground and transects on the walls, richness and abundance of 62 cave-dwelling species in a cave of Northern Italy. Environmental factors such as light intensity, temperature, relative humidity and mineralogical composition of the substrates were measured during each monitoring session, influencing the dynamics of the whole community and revealing significant differences between ground and wall microhabitats. A gradient of variation of the species assemblages occurred from the entrance toward inner areas, however, evidence that the dynamics of the walls are very different from those occurring at the ground independent from the distance from the surface are shown. Biodiversity indices highlighted sampling area diversity and a discrete total cave fauna biodiversity with the highest values found near the entrance and the lowest in the inner part of the cave.
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