- Humajalanta cave presented 32 invertebrate species, six of them troglomorphic
- The species composition between visited and non-visited areas differed significantly
- Singular components of microhabitat determined the similarity of the non-troglobitic fauna
- Microhabitat heterogeneity determined the non-troglobite species richness
- Impacts of weak visitation did not determine faunal differentiation between areas
The cave’s physical environment can be affected by tourism activities but only a few studies evaluated how recreational use may affect the cave fauna, mainly in caves with a low number of visitors per year. To test the hypothesis that recreational use led to changes in habitat structure and invertebrate diversity, distinct scales along a cave were analyzed. Distinct areas with and without human visitation were analyzed and transects (10 x 3 m) and quadrats (1 x 1 m) were used to access the invertebrate communities and environmental traits. Thirty-two invertebrate species were recorded, among which six are troglobitic. The similarity of non- troglobitic species differed between the visited and non-visited areas. Substrate composition inside transects differed between the two areas and the differences were higher in the percentage of matrix rock and fine sediments. The distance from the entrance influenced the similarity of non-troglobitic species while troglobitic fauna responded to the proportion of sandy sediment. Inside quadrats, both matrix rock and fine sediments influenced the similarity of non-troglobitic species. Similarity of non-troglobitic species in the visited area was explained by the proportion of matrix rock in transects and quadrats. The proportion of cobbles influenced the similarity of non-troglobitic species in quadrats in the non-visited area. The non-troglobitic species richness inside quadrants was positively related to the amount of guano, wood, fine sediment, boulders, cobbles, matrix rock, sand sediment, and plant debris. Differentiation in habitat structure and faunal composition between the two areas seems to be an effect of distance from the entrance and spatial heterogeneity, but not recreational activities.
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Furtado Oliveira, L., Lopes Ferreira, R., Rodriguez Fernández, J.I., Souza Silva, M., 2022. Recreational caving impacts of visitors in a high-altitude cave in Bolivian Andes: Main effects on microhabitat structure and faunal distribution. International Journal of Speleology, 51(2), 93-103. https://doi.org/10.5038/1827-806X.51.2.2418