Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1037–1045 | Cite as

Detection of human-induced environmental disturbances in a show cave

  • Angel Fernandez-Cortes
  • Soledad Cuezva
  • Sergio Sanchez-Moral
  • Juan Carlos Cañaveras
  • Estefania Porca
  • Valme Jurado
  • Pedro Maria Martin-Sanchez
  • Cesareo Saiz-JimenezEmail author
Short Research and Discussion Article



We investigated the effects of human-induced disruption in a subterranean stable environment containing valuable Palaeolithic paintings and engravings (Ardales Cave, Southern Spain) using a double analytical approach.


An environmental monitoring system was installed in the cave to record temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2) and radon (222Rn) concentrations in air. In the same stations, an aerobiological sampling was conducted to quantify the level of airborne microorganisms.


The combination of different methods allowed us to detect the extent of human-induced changes, confirming that these can be very hazardous in certain cave areas that should be apparently outside the scope of human disturbances, either by their remoteness to the visitor entrance or by being briefly visited.


The detection of evident anomalies in the environmental parameters and airborne microorganism concentration in the cave area housing the high density of paintings and engravings helps to control human disturbances and supports the direct application of this double approach for cave management purposes.


Aerobiology Caves Environmental control Fungi Bacteria 



This research was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science, projects CGL2010-17108/BTE and CGL2008-05929. The funding of Consejeria de Cultura and Consejeria de Innovacion, Ciencia y Empresa, Junta de Andalucia, project RNM-5137, is acknowledged. A. Fernandez-Cortes benefits from the JAE-Doc Program (CSIC) and S. Cuezva from a Juan de la Cierva fellowship. The Museum of Prehistory of Ardales and its staff are acknowledged for their constant and invaluable collaboration. This is a TPC Consolider CSD2007-00058 paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angel Fernandez-Cortes
    • 1
  • Soledad Cuezva
    • 1
  • Sergio Sanchez-Moral
    • 1
  • Juan Carlos Cañaveras
    • 2
  • Estefania Porca
    • 3
  • Valme Jurado
    • 3
  • Pedro Maria Martin-Sanchez
    • 3
  • Cesareo Saiz-Jimenez
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, MNCN-CSICMadridSpain
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Petrologıa Aplicada, Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra y del Medio AmbienteUniversidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiologia de Sevilla, IRNAS-CSICSevillaSpain

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