Cave Characterization in the North Karst Belt Zone of Puerto Rico: Cave Mesofauna Diversity as an Indicator of Pathogenic and Opportunistic Species

  • Ángel A. Acosta-ColónEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Karst Science book series (AKS)


To completely characterize a cave system, the relationship between the geological, geometrical, physicochemical, and biological properties must be described. The geological properties that provide information on the speleogenesis of the cave was found from a literature review of the region. The geometrical properties were measured to obtain the cartography of the cave in which the cave map, path, and volume were calculated using caveGEOmap. The studied physicochemical properties included the properties of bats’ guano droppings that can be used to understand the mycological settings for guanophillic fungi and mesofauna. The abiotic factors such as acidity, guano-enriched soil moisture, and organic matter content were measured and analyzed. The biological properties investigated were the characterization of the bats and mesofauna of the cave by catch-and-release and traps. Total specimens, species richness, and diversity index of the mesofauna were measured for each trap. These measurements provide us with a possible indicator of regions of the cave that can have a possible health impact in humans. Although the abiotic factors measured do not show a clear relationship as a possible marker of fungi and bacteria, our study found that the mesofauna richness and diversity can be a direct indicator of pathogenic and opportunistic species that can affect the human health if their diets are known.



I thank my colleagues, Dr. José F. Candelaria-Soberal from the Department of Mathematics of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (UPR-A) for his comments on this paper and developing caveGEOmap; Dr. Sondra Vega-Castillo from the Biology Department of UPR-A for her help in the characterization of the mesofauna; and Dr. Armando Rodríguez-Durán and his student Erik Calderon-Davila from the Interamerican University at Bayamon for the help in the classification of the bats. Additionally, I want to especially thank the undergraduate students from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo who worked on this project: Brenda Soto, Janice Maisonet, Pedro Pérez, Radulf Basmeson, Soleil Carrasquillo, Hector Vargas, Zorimary Vélez, Lizzette Pérez, Wilmarie Marrero, Jomar Rodríguez, Neisha Crespo, Alexander Armán, Alexis Castillo, Manuel Nieves, Luis Vega, Eddie Molina, Benny Bonet, Carlos Lugo, Viviana Andújar, Yarinés Pagán, Janeska Pabón, and José Arce. Funding for this study was provided by The Enhancement of STEM Programs through Integration of Mentoring and Undergraduate Research Experiences (MSEIP—P120A110098) project at UPR-A.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics & ChemistryUniversity of Puerto RicoAreciboUSA

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