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Cave Science Pills

Two ‘pills’ a week to observe, describe and document
karst environments with increasing awareness

From 11 February 2021
on Thursdays at 9:00 pm (GMT+1)

Ph. Grotta Guernica, Sandro Sedran, S-Team.


Wednesday 16 June 2021 at 9:00 pm

Introduction by Prof. Maddalena Del Gallo

Dr. Ilaria Vaccarelli
Cave Microbial Survey:
speleologists to support the subterranean microbiology

Dr. Lorenza Rugnini
As long as there is light, there is life:

cyanobacteria biofilm in hypogean environments


The "Cave Science Pills" Cycle is a series of small online cave lessons, framed within the International Year of Caves and Karst. 

From 11 February 2021

Every Thursday evening starting at 9:00pm to 10:00pm until June 17th (GMT+1)

The "Cave Science Pills" series

The Cave Science Pills are small online lectures on caves, organized by the Italian Speleological Society, the Italian Show Caves Association, and the Speleopolis Association, sponsored by the International Union of Speleology, the International Show Caves Association, and the Italian Alpine Club.

The series will be held at a weekly basis, every Thursday night from 9 to 10 pm (GMT+1). Everyone can join the live streaming events, transmitted via different broadcasting systems. An appointment a week that will accompany us into the summer.

The episodes

Each episode is composed of two small cave lectures held by young researchers and cavers, on scientific research themes carried out in Italian caves, on a wide variety of scientific disciplines.

Each of those evenings two small lectures of 20 minutes regarding similar arguments will be held, introduced by an expert in the field. There will be 10 minutes following each ‘pill’ for questions and curiosities, based on comments posted in the chat platforms.

A unique occasion

The presentations will be in Italian with the support of slides in English. A simple but scientifically correct language will be used, aimed at being didactic and informative, since they are aimed at an audience of onlookers, but also of people who work in cave and karst environment as the guides of numerous show caves.

This series of ‘Cave Science Pills’ offer a great opportunity to present how exceptional cave environments are, and how rich they are from a scientific viewpoint. They also offer the opportunity to cavers and cave guides to know more about caves and karst, learn how to observe caves, describe and document them in an increasingly more efficient way, learning how to respect and admire these delicate places.

An open online archive

The small lectures will be recorded and translated and will form an online archive to be used for didactic purposes. This collection of lectures can then be updated with new episodes every year.

Cave Science Pills

Download and share the flyer

Contribute to making the Cave Science Pills known. Download and share the flyer to your cave association, your show cave colleagues, to speleo friends, to students of your course, to those who are curious to know more about underground world


Thursday 11 February 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Vincenzo Spagnolo
Neanderthal in Apulia. Discovering the stories hidden in caves.

Andrea Columbu
How was climate in South Italy during the Neanderthal extinction? Stalagmites can tell us.

Thursday 18 February 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Ilenia M. D’Angeli
The sulfuric acid caves of Calabria: how to recognize and study them.

Luca Pisani
Subsurface fluid flow in the Majella Massif: from fractures to sulfuric caves.

Thursday 25 February 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Elena Piano
Environmental conditions promoting lampenflora growth in show caves.

Rosangela Addesso
The green disease of show caves: how we can avoid and control it. Examples from Lazio and Pertosa-Auletta.

Thursday 4 March 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Simona Cafaro
Alburni Mts: from Pliocene to the present.

Claudio Pastore
A mountain and its waters: Alburni (Campania).

Thursday 11 March 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Stefano Fabbri
Underground remote sensing: laser light and caves a perfect match.

Tommaso Santagata
Ice cave monitoring through LIDAR and photogrammetry.

Thursday 18 March 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Matteo Romandini
Neanderthals, ursids and caves: evidence of interaction from zooarchaeological proofs in southern Europe. The cases of Fumane and Rio Secco sites (Italy).

Lisa Carrera
Fossil birds in the caves on North-Eastern Italy: paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic implications.

Thursday 25 March 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Valeria Vaccher
The semi-submerged caves in the Mediterranean Sea: between census, morphological evolution and protection

Giuseppe Matteo Riolo
Carburangeli Cave: a flak margin cave example (Sicily).

Thursday 1 April 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Pietro Valenti
Cave anthropology, the prehistoric site of Zubbio di Cozzo San Pietro.

Lucia Castagna
Loubens Cave (Gessi Bolognesi Natural Park): reconstruncting the past with a woman's skull only (Emilia Romagna).

Thursday 8 April 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Simone Bernardini
Are all black crusts composed of manganese? The Cervo Cave's case (Abruzzo).

Alessia Nannoni
The impact of marble-dust in cave: the Corchia's case (Toscana).

Thursday 15 April 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Francesco Boschin
Trieste karst in the prehistory: humans and caves.

Jacopo Crezzini
Neanderthal and Sapiens into the caves of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park.

Thursday 22 April 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Giuseppe Nicolosi
Tourists in cave and subterranian arthropods: a possible coexistence?

Enrico Lunghi
The effect of speleo-tourism on the European cave salamanders

Thursday 29 April 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Michele Onorato
Anchialine systems: the groundwaters merging (Zinzulusa, Puglia).

Leonardo Ancillotto
Bats in caves: guidelines for cohabitation.

Thursday 6 May 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Pietro Gutgesell
Karstified Paleozoic limestones. The Tiamu Karstic area.

Alice Busetti
Gypsum karst of Friuli Venezia Giulia Region: the risk connected to a rapidly evolving process.

Thursday 13 May 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Valentina Balestra
Environmental monitoring in caves: goals and equipment.

Daniela Cinus
Show cave environmental implications: from microclimatic indicators to ambient impacts.

Thursday 20 May 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Stefano Marighetti
Where do Asiago Plateau waters go? (Veneto)

Isabella Serena Liso
Hydrogeological surveys in active caves of Apulia.

Wednesday 26 May 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Veronica Chiarini
Show cave management and monitoring: experiences with the ADRION - Adriaticaves Interreg Project in Emilia - Romagna.

Veronica Nanni
Human dimension and show caves.

Thursday 3 June 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Guido Leone
Underground water circulation into the karst acquifers of Apennine Chain.

Vittorio Catani
Vulnerability of underground hydric resources in karst environment.

Thursday 10 June 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Lisa Foschi
Microbiological world of moonmilk: the Black Cave (Abruzzo).

Federico Biagioli
The microbiota contaminations in show caves, management implications and possible uses as bioindicators.

Wednesday 16 June 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm 16 June 2021, 9:00-10:00 pm

Ilaria Vaccarelli
Cave Microbial Survey: cavers support subsurface microbiology.

Lorenza Rugnini
As a long as light exists, there is life: cyanobacteria biofilm in subsurface environment.


The program, during the evenings, may undergo some variation or integration. We will try to notify you as soon as possible but be sure to check for any changes on this page.

For cave association :)

Is Thursday night your weekly meeting at your cave association? Don't worry, live streaming works great even from any PC on the internet and you can follow the episodes with your speleo friends, comment, discuss and rethink toghether the topics.
(we recommend a mask and adequate social distance!)

The cave science pills

Thursday 11 February 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof, Stefano Benazzi

Neanderthal in Apulia. Discovering the stories hidden in caves.

In this talk we will explore some aspects of the life of Apulian Neanderthals: what do their traces tell us about them? To achieve this objective, we will start from a specific excavation field, to address the first part of my talk: methods of prehistoric excavation and research. After that we will discover some of the results brought to light by recent research in some key sites in Apulia, with a particular focus on the potentialities of Spatial Archaeology.

Dr. Vincenzo Spagnolo
Dr. Vincenzo SpagnoloResearch Unit on Prehistory and Anthropology, Department of Physics, Earth Sciences and the Environment, University of Siena Current position: Postdoc
I was born in 1985, and one of the oldest memories exhuming from my mind (perhaps a little later than my full conquest of bipedal gait) is the great passion for the Deep Past of Humanity. I specialized in “Spatial Archaeology”: no Mars, no aliens or similar (I can understand the perplexity of the “profane” in front of this strange specialization). Through my research (and with a certain amount of interdisciplinarity and statistics), I try to reconstruct how the Humans of the past organized and managed their own places of life and how they interfaced with the surrounding territory.

How was climate in South Italy during the Neanderthal extinction? Stalagmites can tell us.

The seminar is divided into two parts. The first explains how stalagmites register information about past climates. The second provides a palaeoclimate reconstruction in south Italy during a particular phase of the last glacial, when Neanderthals disappeared while the "newcomer" Sapiens expanded.

Dr. Andrea Columbu
Dr. Andrea ColumbuDepartment of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences. University of Bologna (Italy). Current Position: PostDoc Fellow
I am a quasi-young (33 yo) Sardinian geologist. After graduation at Bologna University I got my PhD in Australia (Melbourne University). I am currently back in Bologna as PostDoc Fellow. As a researcher, I also had several experiences abroad, for example in Austria, UK, China, Bosnia and Spain. I am not an extremist speleologist but I do go into caves for scientific purposes. This is since I realized that caves, and what I can find within, can help to unlock geological and environmental events throughout geological times. Specifically, I am an expert in reconstructing past climates by studying the geochemical composition of stalagmites, and to comprehend the role of palaeo-climate variations in both cave genesis and surface landscape evolution.

Thursday 18 February 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Leonardo Piccini

The sulfuric acid caves of Calabria: how to recognize and study them.

Here I will elucidate the main mechanisms of cave formation in sulfuric acid conditions, with a focus on Calabria, where recently several cavities have been classified as hypogene sulfuric acid caves.

Dr. Ilenia D’Angeli
Dr. Ilenia D’AngeliDepartment of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Bari Aldo Moro, GSB-USB. Current Position: Post Doc
I’m a geologist lover of caves and the speleological world. My passion for speleology began in 2009, when I visited the “Museo dell’uomo di Altamura” where I saw for the first time the 3D picture of the famous Neanderthal and heard these words “Only cavers can see him personally”…and I’m still waiting for the right moment to see him, but in the cave! Since then I tried to understand if speleology really was the right gallery for me. I moved the first steps into caves following the first level training course of GSB-USB Caving Group, and immediately I attempted to reroute my interest toward the scientific world. During my University studies, I learned to observe caves, trying to get a grasp on how they form. I participated in various international caving expeditions in Cuba, USA, Philippines, Brazil, and Europe. I admire how the other communities respect caves, creating trails to avoid to damage their natural beauty.

Subsurface fluid flow in the Majella Massif: from fractures to sulfuric caves.

In this talk I will illustrate how and why fluids from over 2 km of depth in the Earth's crust can migrate to the surface and produce peculiar karst systems, such as that of Cavallone-Bove in the Majella massif (Abruzzo).

Dr. Luca Pisani
Dr. Luca PisaniDepartment of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences. University of Bologna (Italy), GSB-USB Bologna. Current Position: PhD student.
I started to get interested in caving in 2015 with the GSB-USB caving club in Bologna. I could therefore be called a "novice", despite this activity has now completely captured my dreams and curiosity (as well as my weekends). In addition to the speleological activity in the raw and pure sense of exploration and geographical documentation, I am also interested in science, specifically the relationships between stratigraphy, deformation in carbonate rocks and speleogenesis. I obtained my master's degree in Bologna in 2018, with a thesis on the salt caves of the Atacama Desert (Chile). I am currently working on caves in central Italy (Abruzzo) and in northeastern Brazil (Bahia), regarding the reconstruction of fluids’ migration paths from deep sources, and consequent formation of hypogenic karst systems.

Thursday 25 February 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Dr. Francescantonio D’Orilia

Environmental drivers determining the lampenflora growth in show caves.

In this presentation, I will show the main environmental drivers determining the growth of the lampenflora, by presenting the data collected in 4 caves in NW-Italy. More in detail, I will show how environmental factors differentially affect the growth of the three main groups of microorganisms that compose the lampenflora, namely diatoms, cyanobacteria and green algae.

Dr. Elena Piano
Dr. Elena PianoDepartment of Life Sciences and System Biology, University of Turin Current position: Post-doc
I am an ecologist in a broad sense, as in my 10 years of research career I moved from the deepest caves to Alpine streams, passing through cities. I am now back to caves ‘as a tourist’: I am currently working with Prof. Marco Isaia in the framework of the PRIN SHOWCAVE project specifically dedicated to the study of the tourism impact in caves opened to the public. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the workforce involved in the project is trying to unravel the main threats to the Italian show caves to provide management suggestions for their conservation.

The green disease of show caves: how we can avoid and control it. Examples from Latium and Pertosa-Auletta

We will illustrate the multiple impacts of lampenflora on natural cave surfaces and the possible treatment methods, known until now, to control its growth.

Dr. Rosangela Addesso
Dr. Rosangela AddessoDepartment of Chemistry and Biology “Adolfo Zambelli”, University of Salerno, Melandro Caving Group. Current position: PhD Student
I’m an environmental scientist and a speleologist. My caving experience started with the master thesis on cave vermiculations. Loving open spaces, the forests and the mountains, I never thought I’d climb down in a shaft or in a confined and underground environment. The research led me to discover this extraordinary hidden world, and I felt privileged to be able to observe and study such a fascinating, scarcely known but fragile ecosystem. Therefore, I joined Melandro Caving Group and I started a cooperation with MIdA Foundation for laboratory and experiential activities of environmental disclosure and as scientific communicator at the Soil Museum and at the geosite of Pertosa-Auletta Cave. Actually, I’m carrying out a PhD at University of Salerno, with a project in applied ecology about hypogean environmental monitoring and the sustainable management of cave tourism.

Thursday 04 March 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Bartolomeo Vigna

Alburni Mts: from Pliocene to the present

The evolutionary history of a massif can be deduced through several aspects. The presence of epigean and subterranean karst forms can help to reconstruct the different stages leading to the current morphological configuration of a relief. The Alburni Mts, with the presence of flat-surfaces modelled in different ways and with an important deep karst, has made it possible to reconstruct its karstic history from the Pliocene to the present.

Dr. Simona Cafaro
Dr. Simona CafaroMiDA Foundation – Integrated Environmental Museum Current position: Scientific consultant
I have been attracted by speleology thanks to a researcher and speleologist that introduced me to this world, especially from a scientific standpoint (at that time, I was a little naive girl who used to study Earth Sciences at the Basilicata University…let's say that not much has changed, I am still naive and "small"!). Yet, these first steps have left an important imprint by leading me to meet the speleological group "GSA Vallo di Diano", which has made me grow up and encouraged me to conduct several research activities. Since I have entered the world of caves, I have focused my studies on the morphogenesis and evolution of karst massifs, trying to link what happened at the surface with what occurred underground, and whenever it has been possible trying to reconstruct the chronology of events.

A mountain and its water: Alburni’s Massif (Campania, IT)

I will tell you which are the subterranean paths that water follows to then gush out at the slopes of the Alburni Mounts. We will talk about the role of the caves on the plateau, in which water is swallowed reaching the underground rivers, and then drained out from springs. Thereafter, we are going to say a few words about the several spring-caves deployed at the foot of the karst massif.

Dr. Claudio Pastore
Dr. Claudio PastoreSwiss institute for Speleology and Karst Studies (ISSKA). University of Neuchâtel. Council member of the Italian Speleological Society; GS Martinese Current position: PhD student
I am a 31-year-old speleologist and geologist from Apulia, Italy. I started caving in 2006 when I was 16, with the GS Martinese. This choice changed my life radically, dedicating more and more time exploring and studying karst systems. After a geology degree at the University of Parma I did my Master Degree at the University of Bologna on the hydrogeology of the Alburni’s Massif, where I started caving years before. Now, my scientific interests go towards underground climatology and the interaction between air, water and limestone (which is permeated by them). For this reason, I am following a research doctorate at the Swiss Institute of Speleology and Karst, under the aegis of the University of Neuchâtel, working on the Thermokarst Project.

Thursday 11 March 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Francesco Sauro

Underground remote sensing: Laser light and caves, a perfect match.

The seminar will be an opportunity to show the main features of L.A.S.E.R. and the main scientific results obtained thanks to the use of this technology in caves, which differ in both constitution and genesis: 3D geomorphology from the gypsum of Romagna to the Lessini Mountains.

Dr. Stefano Fabbri
Dr. Stefano FabbriDepartment of Physics and Earth Sciences, University of Ferrara (Italy). Current position: Research Fellow, in CoStUF (Coastal Study Unit Ferrara) – Lecturer in “GIS and Remote Sensing application to territorial cartography”
Graduated in Natural Sciences, with a thesis about river ecology, I had the opportunity to obtain a PhD in Geology at the University of Bologna (and, in part, the Flinders University of Adelaide, Australia), specializing in systems of Remote Sensing, specifically for what concerns Laser Scanners and Drones, applied to geomorphology, with particular regard to coastal systems. In short, I studied everything but caves! ...but during the PhD period I met Professor De Waele and his gang, who convinced me to bring and test my instruments in caves. Since then, we have had several fruitful collaborations, which have led me to explore (as little as possible!) and survey different types of caves, from the Romagnolo Gypsum Veins to the Atacama salt desert, in Chile. Personally, these environments inspire me as much reverence as interest, not only from a geomorphological point of view or for the natural dynamics that create them, but also for their intrinsic charm and the mental challenge that is required to enter them.

Ice cave monitoring through LIDAR and photogrammetry

We will talk about technologies for three-dimensional surveys applied to the study of glacial deposits in caves taking as an example the monitoring project of the Abyss Cenote, actually one of the deepest caves and with the most impressive internal glacial area of the Dolomites (over half a million cubic meters of volume).

Dr. Tommaso Santagata
Dr. Tommaso SantagataVigea srl ; La Venta Esplorazioni Geografiche; Caving Group CAI di Carpi Current position: Geometra; Vigea srl
I have always been interested in studying and representing the territory, keeping pace with the new technologies. I studied geological sciences for a few years, and this brought me to start caving. The beauty of exploration in unknown worlds captured me immediately, but soon I found it even more interesting to learn how to achieve three-dimensional surveys of such complex environments as caves, a way to combine passion and work. In 2014 I took part in my first expedition abroad (Mexico), followed by many other projects around the world, from the glaciers of Patagonia and Iceland to the oldest caves in the world hidden among the Tepui of Venezuela, in the salt deserts of Iran and Atacama, in the lava tubes of the Galapagos islands, in the Albanian Alps and the Philippines, often with the aim of making 3D surveys or to test new technologies. Speleology is giving me the opportunity to live these incredible experiences while I still try to understand how to study and best represent the underground world through the three-dimensional survey… so I hope to understand something as late as possible!!

Thursday 18 March 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Dr. Ivana Fiore

Neanderthals, ursids and caves: evidence of interaction from zooarchaeological proofs in southern Europe. The cases of Fumane and Rio Secco sites (Italy).

This seminar shows how, since the Palaeolithic, human beings and bears have shared caves in much of Europe, as evidenced by a number of bones found in association with lithic artefacts. Among these, the bones found in two caves of North-Eastern Italy show that tens of thousands of years ago the Neanderthals, shortly before their extinction in Italy, had some kind of “conflictual close approaches” with the large plantigrades. In these conflicts, Neanderthals seem to have prevailed.

Dr. Matteo Romandini
Dr. Matteo RomandiniDepartment of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna (Italy). Current Position: PostDoc Fellow
I am a “young-adult” zooarchaeologist and taphonomist, involved in the study of archaeofauna for more than a decade now. I got my PhD at the University of Ferrara, where I matured a 10 year-long experience as a postdoctoral fellow. I am currently a research fellow of the ERC project “SUCCESS”, coordinated by Prof. Stefano Benazzi. Since 2013 I am the Director of the Museo della Grotta di Pradis (Clauzetto – PN). I have had the pleasure of investigating a number of caves and shelters throughout Italy. In detail, I analyse the skeletal remains which are found in archaeological contexts, identify “victims” and “culprits” among animals or men and, if possible, the motive. In addition, I reconstruct past environmental scenarios on the basis of the animal species I identify.

Fossil birds in the caves on North-Eastern Italy: paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic implications.

With this evening’s seminar, I will show how fossil birds from Pleistocene cave deposits are studied and what kind of information they can provide. In detail, I will describe the species retrieved in two caves in North-Eastern Italy and the significant palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic insights they provided.

Dr. Lisa Carrera
Dr. Lisa CarreraDepartment of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences. University of Bologna. Current Position: PhD student
Since my childhood I showed a strong attraction towards Nature studies, especially Ornithology and Palaeontology. These passions led me to study for a degree in Natural Sciences and then a specialization in Quaternary, Prehistory and Archaeology at the University of Ferrara. During the years of University, I have carried out a number of field works in the areas of ornithology and archaeology/palaeontology, building up a good wealth of experience. With my specialization, I managed to combine my main passions, beginning the study of the fossil avifauna. Today, my research focuses on the study of the bird adaptations to past climatic oscillations, but I also study fossil birds in order to reconstruct the interactions between men and birds during Prehistory.

Thursday 25 March 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Stefano Furlani

The semi-submerged caves in the Mediterranean Sea: between census, morphological evolution and protection

Dr. Valeria Vaccher
Dr. Valeria VaccherDepartment of Mathematics and Geosciences. University of Trieste (Italy). Current Position: Earth Science, mathematics, and fluid dynamic Phd.
I’m a 27-year old enterprising geologist, living in Trieste, where I graduated in 2019 in Environmental geology, now carrying out a PhD in Earth Science, Mathematics and Fluid Dynamic. Before this lockdown, over the last 7 years, I have studied and visited a lot of interesting places along the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea coasts, from Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Trieste up to Slovenia, Croatia and Greece. I use Structure from Motion photogrammetry applied to time-lapse images collected along large rocky coastal sectors. 3D models of the intertidal zone allow us to carry out multidisciplinary studies, integrating the morphometric and geomorphological data with biological and sea level change ones. The results of these researches are fundamental for predicting the evolution of the coastline both from environmental and human point of view.

Carburangeli Cave: a flak margin cave example (Sicily).

After a short description of the main genetic processes of sea caves, I will focus on the Carburangeli Cave, a small cavity near Palermo, which has been a protected Nature Reserve since 1995 due to its speleological, biological and palaeontological values. I will describe the morphological features of the cave and the investigations which led to its identification as a coastal micing corrosion cave (a ‘flank margin cave’).

Dr. Giuseppe Matteo Riolo
Dr. Giuseppe Matteo RioloDepartment of Earth and Marine Sciences, University of Palermo. Current position: Wellsite Geologist / Technical Deputy Site Director
Born in 1990, I obtained the title of MSc in Geological Sciences and Technologies at the University of Palermo. After completing my studies, I worked as a Mathematics and Science teacher in a secondary school. In October 2020, I started to work as a wellsite geologist for a company that operates in the drilling field. I became passionate about scientific research while drafting my degree thesis, in which I dealt with the study of the Carburangeli Cave, conducting numerous analyses in the field and in the lab. Of all the Cave Science Pills participants, I am perhaps the least "titled" since I did not do a PhD course or similar, but I am certainly very fascinated by the world of caves and research, and I hope that I will have other opportunities like this in the future to challenge my skills!

Thursday 1 April 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Maria Giovanna Belcastro

Anthropology in the cave, the Zubbio di Cozzo San Pietro prehistoric site.

During this pill, I will present the results of a first excavation campaign carried out in a Sicilian cave called Zubbio di Cozzo San Pietro. The recent discovery of this site opens new perspectives on the study of human settlements in Sicilian prehistory. The talk will start from the discovery of the osteological bed, to the organization and implementation of the excavation, terminating with the study in the laboratory of the recovered finds.

Dr. Pietro Valenti
Dr. Pietro ValentiDepartment of Biological Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science and Technologies, University of Palermo. Current position: Freelance.
I am a Naturalist and speleologist at the A.N.S Le Taddarite of Palermo, Graduated in Natural Sciences, since 2013 I have been collaborating with the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Applications - Dept. STEBICEF of the University of Palermo. I was lucky enough to enter the world of speleology during my university studies, a real flood that has invested me and brought me down into the meanders of this noble science. As a naturalist, I learned to look at everything holistically and this allowed me to work on various projects such as B.A.R.T (BAt Roosts Temperature - BART), to study entomofauna or osteo-archaeological deposits at some Sicilian speleological reserves. Since 2016 I have been part of the team of the archaeological mission of the Institute of Fine Arts -NYU in Selinunte (TP) as an archaeologist, in 2017 I did research as a zoologist for FortHare University, South Africa. I often think back to the introductory course I attended in 2006, and I would certainly repeat that experience, no doubt!

Loubens Cave (Parco dei Gessi Bolognesi): reconstructing the past just with a lady’s cranium.

I want to tell you about the strange case of an isolated cranium, found by chance at the top of a natural shaft, in the depth of a gypsum doline near Bologna. How did it end up there in such an unusual place? How long ago? And above all: How to study it without a reliable archaeological stratigraphy? After the complex recovery, all these questions have led to a productive collaboration between the superintendence -SABAPBO- and scientists from various departments of Bologna University, creating an ideal composite and multidisciplinary case-study.

Dr. Lucia Castagna
Dr. Lucia CastagnaFormer student of Archaeology at Bologna University and of Physical and Forensic Anthropology at Granada University. Current Position: Archaeologist.
I am a young field-archaeologist, specialized in shovel and pick in construction sites. A wanderer by nature, I entered the ‘tunnel of speleology’ in 2016 during a prehistoric cave excavation near Córdoba in Spain. Since then, from the discovery of a Neanderthal tooth in the caves of Gibraltar to the study of funerary contexts in the Granada karst, caves have never abandoned me, leading me from Prehistoric Archaeology towards Physical Anthropology.

Thursday 8 April 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Cristina Carbone

Are all the black crusts formed by manganese? The case of the Grotta del Cervo (Abruzzo).

During my talk, I will show how the study of black patinas allows recognizing the shift between oxic and suboxic conditions, related to different phases of paleo-flood events, and investigating the role of the wall surface's roughness on the microbe-mineral interactions in such an extreme environment.

Dr. Simone Bernardini
Dr. Simone BernardiniDepartment of Science, Roma 3 University (Italy). Current Position: PhD student.
This short autobiography can only start from a confession, under my breath, and not without a hint of shame: "I am not a speleologist nor have I ever set foot in a cave." Relieved of this "original sin," I can talk a little about myself. I am a mineralogist, and I have been dealing with manganese mineralizations for several years now. My main interest is in using these minerals as indicators of redox conditions and biosignatures for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. I started by studying manganese deposits from central Italy and then continued with samples from various locations around the world and from very different geological settings, such as, for example, polymetallic crusts and nodules from deep-marine environments. Recently, with the help of researchers, experts of cave environments, I began to apply this experience to study manganese mineralizations from underground environments.

Evidence of marmettola pollution in caves: the case of Corchia Cave (Tuscany).

A brief overview of the marble quarrying district and the characteristics of the Apuan karst area is presented in the first part of the seminar. Then, the Corchia karst system is introduced as an example of cave system that is exposed to marmettola pollution and how this material is studied.

Dr. Alessia Nannoni
Dr. Alessia NannoniDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Florence (Italy). Current Position: Research grant.
I am a geologist born in 1989. I graduated in geochemistry and volcanology at the University of Florence, then I got interested in speleology (better late than never!), so I enrolled in a PhD at the University of Bologna. During my stay at Bologna I investigated water flow in the vadose zone of structurally complex karst systems. Currently I’m working on how flow circulation regulates the solid load transport in the karst systems of the Apuan Alps and on the episodic pollution of the aquifers caused by the infiltration of the marble powder (locally called “marmettola”) produced during the quarrying of the Carrara marble.

Thursday 15 April 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Paolo Reggiani

The prehistory of the Trieste Karst: men and caves.

This talk is a story of how the caves of the Trieste Karst, and the archives they contain, can provide us with useful information not only on the presence of man in the area during prehistoric times, but also on how the Karst plateau and the surrounding areas have changed over time. In order to reconstruct environments and human activities, we will be helped above all by the animal remains preserved in archaeological sites.

Dr. Francesco Boschin
Dr. Francesco BoschinDepartment of Physical, Earth and Envireonmental Sciences, University of Siena. Current position: Researcher.
Born in 1981 in Trieste, I visited caves since I was a child. It was thanks to my grandfather that my brother and I took our first steps into the world of speleology. My initial fear of the dark soon became a passion for nature and this, together with my precocious and insane interest in animal skeletons (imagine my parents' joy!), led me to graduate in Natural Sciences, with a zooarchaeological thesis at the University of Trieste. After a few years spent doing various jobs (including tourist guide at the Grotta Gigante), I begun to carry out research at the University in Siena, first thanks to a PhD grant and then to some research grants. I currently hold the position of researcher at the University of Siena studying animal remains from prehistoric sites.

Neanderthal and Sapiens in the caves of the NP of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni.

In this talk we will show some interesting data obtained from zooarchaeological analyses conducted on macromammal remains recovered in Middle and Upper Palaeolithic sites in southern Italy. Analysis of ungulate bones revealed some important differences between the samples recovered in the layers related to Neanderthal and Modern Human. These differences are probably due to different patterns of animal exploitation adopted by the two human populations.

Dr. Jacopo Crezzini
Dr. Jacopo CrezziniResearch Unit of Prehistory and Anthropology, Department of Physics, Earth Sciences and the Environment, University of Siena. Centro Studi sul Quaternario ONLUS, San Sepolcro, Arezzo Current Position: PostDoc Fellow.
I was born in Siena in 1977. I live in this little, amazing, medieval city and i spend my time thinking about the Palio and singing tuscan "stornelli" while i drink red wine. During the rest of the day I'm a Postdoc at University of Siena and my main research interests include the evolution of human behaviour investigated through the zooarchaeological and taphonomic studies of faunal remains, with a particular interest in Middle-Upper Palaeolithic assemblages of Central-Southern Italy. In addition to a Phd in Prehistory, Environmental and Cultures, i hold a degree in Science and Technology of Herbal products and a II level post-lauream Master in Applied Phytotherapy at the University of Siena. For these reasons I'm interested in the evolution of diet of palaeolithic hunter-gatherers and of the first farmers and to the subsistence strategies and processing technologies of natural products adopted by these populations. I'm also developing, together with my colleguaes, new protocols for the application of 3D digital microscopy to the study of the Cultural Heritage.

Thursday 22 April 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Stefano Mammola

Tourists in cave and subterranean arthropods: a possible coexistence?

During my talk, I will present the current knowledge on the main threats affecting the fauna in tourist caves, with particular regard to the invertebrate fauna. Subsequently, I will focus on the case study of the Monello Cave, an integral natural reserve managed by the CUTGANA of the University of Catania and recently opened to small groups of visitors in the context of scientific research on the evaluation of "Carrying Capacity".

Dr. Giuseppe Nicolosi
Dr. Giuseppe NicolosiDepartment of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Turin. Current Position: PhD student.
I am a biologist and speleologist interested in the study of hypogean fauna and ecosystems, graduated at the University of Catania. I started to go into caves and get passionate about everything that lives and crawls in total darkness since I was a master student, and then "graduated" speleologist since 2013 with the Centro Speleologico Etneo" of Catania of which I am still a member. I'm currently working with Prof. Marco Isaia as part of the PRIN SHOWCAVE project dedicated to the study of the impacts of tourism in caves open to the public but, as a son of the Etna volcano, I continue to dedicate much of my time to the study of fauna in the volcanic environment and anthropogenic threats to which this fauna is subjected.

The effect of speleo-tourism on the European cave salamanders.

The seminar begins with a general overview on the European cave salamanders, showing their main features and ecological requirements. Then, I will report the experience of two dear Sardinian friends that observed the activity of European cave salamanders within two tourist caves.

Dr. Enrico Lunghi
Dr. Enrico LunghiKey Laboratory of the Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. Posizione Attuale: Postdoc.
I am 36 years old, born and raised in Prato (Tuscany, Italy) until my early twenties; I then started to travel with the hope to find my own way. I actually found it in Milan, where I began my studies in Natural Science. Then, I continued my studies in Florence and ended in Trier (Germany) for my Ph.D. I realized that I wanted to become a researcher when I performed my first field activity: it was focused on collecting data on Strinati’s cave salamander. Since then, I mainly focused my studies on the European cave salamanders, and with time, I started to include more cave species and develop a wider interest for cave biology. I am mostly interested in the ecology and behaviour of cave species, with the overarching goal to provide useful information to improve their conservation.

Thursday 29 April 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Dott. Paolo Agnelli

Anchialine Systems: the encounter of groundwater (Zinzulusa, Puglia)

In this speech I will illustrate the latest scientific research carried out in Grotta Zinzulusa (Castro -LE) and future prospects. Already known as one of the ten most important karst sites in the world, according to the Karst Water Institute, for the peculiar forms of life that have been found within it, the aquifer system of the cave is for the first time studied in a systematic way, thanks the installation of a multiparametric probe, a net for capturing planktonic organisms and sampling water, sediment and encrustations. The consequent analyses made it possible to ascertain that this system was more complex than expected, finding particular organisms and questioning its classification as an anchialine system proper.

Dr. Michele Onorato
Dr. Michele OnoratoAPOGON Submarine Speleology Center onlus. Current position: Biospeleosub.
Born in Nardò (LE) on 24 September 1994, I have always been "more marine than speleo". I practice diving with A.R.A. since I was 12 years old and I am currently a second level diving instructor for ANIS / CMAS. Exploring the great blue, however, it is easy to find some caves. Therefore, I am also a speleosub belonging to the APOGON Submarine Speleology Center, with which I frequently carry out surveying, topography and classification of submerged caves (along the Salento coast) and biospeleological research. In June 2020 I obtained a master's degree in Coastal and Marine Biology and Ecology at the University of Salento, carrying out a thesis on zoological, microbiological and environmental research in Grotta Zinzulusa (Castro - LE), where I intend to continue the research.

How to conserve bats in caves?

The seminar is divided in two parts. The first shows the diversity of the bat species found in Italy, explaining their life cycles. The second provides an overview of bat conservation and potential problems arising from the use of caves by humans, as well as giving some possible remedies we can set in place to enable the use of caves without compromising this preferred habitat for bats.

Dr. Leonardo Ancillotto
Dr. Leonardo AncillottoLa Specola - Museum of Natural History, University of Florence (Italy). Current Position: Research Fellow.
I am a bat specialist with a degree in Biological Sciences and a PhD in Animal Biology; since my first research experiences, I focused on bats and their conservation, gaining experiences with many bat species and in several ecological contexts, ranging from small islands to mountains and caves, obviously. I am the national coordinator of the Italian Bat Group, and I had many experiences dealing with conflictual situations between bats and people in buildings and caves. In these years, I came to the conclusion that only an efficient communication strategy and sharing information between scientists, cavers and the public may end up with conserving bats everywhere, and particularly in cave habitats.

Thursday 6 May 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Luca Zini

Karstified Paleozoic limestones. The Tiamu Karstic area.

The seminar is divided into two parts. The first will talk about the Timau-Passo di Monte Croce Carnico karst area (general geological settings, overview on the main cavities and historical note). Because the area and especially the caves were used during the First World War by both armies and there are several pieces of evidence in the zone.

The latter part focuses on the hydrological and geochemical settings of the area. And how not always the drainage divide agrees with the groundwater basin and how we cope with these issues.

Dr. Pietro Gutgesell
Dr. Pietro GutgesellDepartment of mathematics and Geoscience. University of Trieste (Italy). Current Position: Research Fellow.
I am geophysist of the University of Trieste. I first made a thesis on the characterization of the permanently frozen deposit of the Paradana Ice Cave Trnovski Gozd (Slovenia), then on the geophysical survey of the Gran Zebrù Glacier by means of innovative GPR techniques. At the moment, I’m involved in a research project to identify the regional and cross-border karst aquifers of FVG region and quantify their vulnerability.

Gypsum karst of Friuli Venezia Giulia region: the risk connected to a rapidly evolving process.

In this talk we will focus on the subsidence phenomena called “sinkholes”, holes that suddenly open under our feet. We will look at some examples in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, their main characteristics and associated risks. In short, if you see a sinkhole you will surely be able to recognize it and not fall into it!!

Dr. Alice Busetti
Dr. Alice BusettiDepartment of Mathematics and Geosciences. University of Trieste. Current Position: PhD student.
I’m a young student (born in 1992) of the University of Trieste that had the opportunity to do some internship in different geological fields. My academic experience started during a glaciology course with some surveys in the Canin Mountains and geomorphological and hydrogeological swim-survey along the coastal sector of the Egadi Island (Sicily). Then I continued my university studies on the assessment of storm surge risks along the venetian coastal sector and on hydrogeological studies on the regional aqueducts (Friuli Venezia Giulia). I finally ended up working in karst and in particular, on those natural and sudden sinking phenomena known in literature with the term “sinkhole”. Their development can create instability problems in urban areas and infrastructural damages.

Thursday 13 May 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Dr. Pierpaolo Duce

Environmental monitoring in caves: goals and equipment.

In this presentation, I will explain the importance of cave (touristic and not) monitoring, underlining how these studies are fundamental to examine the possible impacts from visitors. I will show the different instruments that can be used, from the installation of the equipment to the unloading and use of the collected data. Finally, I will illustrate some results, highlighting the main problems encountered.

Dr. Valentina Balestra
Dr. Valentina BalestraDepartment of Environment, Land and Infrastructure Engineering, Politecnico di Torino. Vice-president of Piedmont Subterranean Biology – Research Group; GS Piemontese. Current position: Research Fellow.
I am a 34-year-old naturalist in a broad sense, eternally curious and deeply in love with nature. I graduated in Environmental Engineering and Natural Sciences (master’s thesis on biological and environmental conservation monitoring in caves), therefore, I try to combine different disciplines to better know the world, trying to find alternative solutions and more sustainable approaches to preserve it. Speleology captured me since 2016. At the moment I am part of the Politecnico working team, as part of the project PRIN SHOWCAVE, aimed to study the human impact in show caves. Specifically, I deal with the study of environmental factors that characterize the hypogean habitat, climate parameters that favor the formation/corrosion of speleothems, and microplastic contamination. Providing new knowledge on cave systems is the first step to protect them.

Environmental implications of tourist caves: from microclimatic indicators to environmental impacts.

My talk will focus on the importance of the physical characterization of the air masses in the karst environment and their monitoring aimed at evaluating the environmental changes in tourist caves due to anthropogenic presence. In particular, I will focus on underground meteorological monitoring data of some of the most important tourist caves in Sardinia as part of the PRIN "SHOWCAVE" project. I will introduce a new analytical approach that will be applied for the analysis of the environmental impact and the estimation of the carrying capacity of a tourist cave, the Life Cycle Assessment.

Dr. Daniela Cinus
Dr. Daniela CinusInstitute of Bioeconomy of Sassari – National Research Council of Italy. Current Position: Research Fellow. Gruppo Speleo Ambientale Sassari (G.S.A.S.).
I am a 33-year-old naturalist, speleologist and diver, with a degree in Natural Sciences and a master degree in Environmental and Territory Management. During university, I studied the hypogean endemic beetles of Sardinia of the genus Ovobathysciola. At the C.N.R. currently I’m dealing with the monitoring of physical parameters in a karst environment and evaluation of the anthropic impact on tourist caves as part of the PRIN SHOWCAVE project. I am a caving instructor of the S.S.I. and speleological rescue technician of the C.N.S.A.S. since 2012. I started caving in 2008, and this passion led me to explore the great deep systems of karst in Sardinia, among the largest in Italy. The cave is an experience that I recommend to everyone. Sharing the cold, effort and emotion of an exploration consolidates the bonds, but be careful, it is addictive!

Thursday 20 May 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Mario Parise

Waters are storytellers of the underworld - The story of the Asiago plateau and its north-eastern caves (Trentino – Veneto region).

A first two-year monitoring of the waters that flow in the North-Eastern area of the Asiago plateau was carried out. In the study area, 200 km2 with about 60 km of well-known caves, a hydrogeological and hydrochemical model was defined through the use of natural and artificial tracers. The exceptional 3D knowledge of the investigated area, allows to study the evolution of the chemical and physical characteristics of the waters: from their infiltration, along their path through complex vertical and horizontal galleries, which are established on various paleophreatic levels, up to the springs at the bottom valley of Valsugana.

Dr. Stefano Marighetti
Dr. Stefano MarighettiSelva Caving Club (TN – Italy). .Current Position: Speleologist.
I was forced to go caving for the first time in my life, when I was 14 years old, like all the other guys of that age of Selva di Grigno, a small isolated town surrounded by karst plateaus, in Trentino (North-Italy). At first, I was amazed by speleology, as a deep-rooted and identifying characteristic of the local community, above all I was enchanted by its exploratory and adventurous characteristics. I started noticing the scientific nature of this discipline only later, at the age of 20, when I participated in an expedition in the Philippines with the La Venta Exploring Team. Once I came back, I enrolled at University and my entire academic career was focused on speleogenesis and karst hydrogeology. Now I am 30, I’m living in South Tyrol (Extreme North-Italy) where I work as a geologist. I dream of returning to Selva soon and continuing to explore the caves of my homeland from a new scientific perspective.

Apulian karst aquifers: the caves as extraordinary natural laboratories.

The talk will illustrate the importance and methods to collect information, from within the caves and the surrounding karst environment, to better understand the behavior of fresh water moving below our feet.

Dr. Isabella Serena Liso
Dr. Isabella Serena LisoUniversity Aldo Moro, Bari (Italy), Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Current Position: PhD student.
I started to study the underground environment immediately after graduating in geology (2012). My interest was understanding how the water infiltrates into the ground and, flowing below our feet, returns at the surface as spring waters. I worked 4 years at the Water Research Institute (CNR). During these years, I decided to begin caving, since this could give to me the chance of directly entering the natural systems I was studying, and the precious opportunity to observe it from the inside. Today, I am in the third year of my PhD and I am studying two caves, located in Apulia, that allow speleologists to physically reach the water table and to be able to monitor groundwater in a direct way, in its natural environment. These particular situations have transformed the two Apulian caves into extraordinary natural laboratories, from which we can learn and collect important information about this precious resource.

Wednesday 26 May 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Dr. Massimiliano Costa

Monitoring and management of caves open to the public: the experience of the Interreg ADRION – Adriaticaves Project in Emilia – Romagna

During this talk we will sum up the importance of caves for both scientific research and as a proper natural habitat, analysing cave fragilities in relation to cave frequentation (both touristic and not). We will talk about the importance of monitoring in caves open to the public and the approach adopted within the Interreg ADRION- Adriaticaves Project, with special regards to the activities carried out in the territories managed by the Authority for the management of Parks and Biodiverstiy – Romagna.

Dr. Veronica Chiarini
Dr. Veronica ChiariniBiological, Geological and Environmental Science Department – University of Bologna. Authority for the management of Parks and Biodiversity – Romagna. Current position: postdoc / collaborator
I started hiking on the gypsum formation in Romagna when I was a little child. Soon I got fascinated by those “holes” in the ground, asking myself what I could have found down there. During my university studies in geology I attended a caving course at GSFa to finally explore those mysterious underground places. Then, I left for New Zealand, but this in another story! I came back to start my joint PhD at the University of Bologna and Grenoble (France). I had then the possibility to combine two of my passions: speleology and the study of past climate fluctuations. In that period, I visited several caves in Emilia-Romagna, Apulia and Bosnia and the sampled stalagmites are still providing interesting data for palaeoclimate research. After my PhD I started a collaboration with the Authority for the management of Parks and Biodiversity – Romagna to work at the implementation of the Interreg ADRION – Adriaticaves Project, mainly focusing on cave monitoring, sustainable management and tourism in karst areas.

Perception of cave tourism and related impacts.

This talk aims to highlight the main impacts of tourism activities on subterranean ecosystems. We will also try to understand what tourists value more of this wonderful underground environment and what perception they have of their impact as visitors. We will start from current knowledge and illustrate the objectives of a new study aimed at understanding the awareness of tourists and other stakeholders on the impact of cave tourism.

Dr. Veronica Nanni
Dr. Veronica NanniDepartment of Life Sciences and System Biology, University of Turin. Current position: Postdoc
I am an ecologist, conservationist and young researcher. I graduated at the University of Genova with a Master in Natural Systems Science. During and after my studies I had various training experiences abroad, working for research centers, natural history museums and universities in Spain, Finland and Slovenia. My research combines ecological, sociological and management aspects of the Human-Wildlife Conflict, focusing on Human Dimensions and public perception of the natural heritage. I approached the speleological world five years ago for friendship and to satisfy the desire of adventure and discovery. I just joined the team of Prof. Marco Isaia within the PRIN SHOWCAVE project and currently I’m dealing with the perception among stakeholders of the impact of tourists in the caves. Through a multidisciplinary approach, the project aims to assess the main threats to tourist caves and to provide guidelines for their conservation.

Thursday 03 June 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Francesco Fiorillo

Underground water circulation in the Apennine karst aquifers

Underground cavities and caves result from the dissolution of carbonate rocks due to groundwater circulation. In karst environments, groundwaters have different origins. In particular, they can be related to direct infiltration of rainwater, or they can follow deep paths. Generally, the paths followed by groundwater are complex and depend on numerous factors. This presentation aims to illustrate the groundwater circulation mechanisms which characterize some karst aquifers of Campania.

Dr. Guido Leone
Dr. Guido LeoneUniversità degli Studi del Sannio, provincia di Benevento, Campania. Current position: PhD student
I am a young PhD student and I am conducting my research activities at the University of Sannio, in Benevento (Campania). Ironically, I’m from Telese Terme, a small village of the Benevento province, which is known for its sulphureous thermal springs and sinkholes, whose genesis is related to the collapse of karst underground cavities. Although my research does not aim to study caves, for people like me who studies the karst environments these landforms represent a fundamental key in interpreting numerous natural phenomena. For example, caves represent an ideal location for the acquisition of data for studying the aquifer hydrodynamics. In some cases, the analysis of cave features allows to know the origin of groundwaters, being these features the result of specific groundwater circulation mechanisms.

Groundwater vulnerability in karst environment.

The protection of water resources is fundamental and of priority importance, especially when these resources are exploited for drinking water purposes.

Carbonate aquifers, given the excellent qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the water resource, represent an ideal water reservoir. During my talk, the groundwater vulnerability in karst environment will be illustrated: causes, paths and effects.

Dr. Vittorio Catani
Dr. Vittorio CataniDepartment of Science and Technology, University of Sannio (Italy). Current Position: Post doc
I am a young geologist who has always been involved in everything related to environmental protection. After earning a Master in remediation of polluted sites at Sapienza and working in the remediation sector, I embarked on an academic path at the Department of Science and Technology of the University of Sannio which allowed me to achieve a PhD in Applied Hydrogeology discussing the thesis: "Integrated approach to the assessment of Campania water quality and vulnerability". I am not a speleologist but for reasons related to my research I have had to deal with caves, both for hydrogeological studies and tests (caves and sinkholes of the Southern Apennines) and in environmental monitoring of radon gas (Perama Cave, Greece).

Thursday 10 June 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Laura Bruno

Microbiological world of Moonmilk and the Grotta Nera cave (Abruzzo).

In this talk we’ll discuss why caves are considered extreme environments and why microorganisms can play a significant role in caves reshaping. We’ll talk about Bacteria, trying to understand how microbial activity can affect speleothem formation. Specifically, we’re going to talk about the Grotta Nera (located in the Majella National Park, in Abruzzo) and its particular speleothems called moonmilk trays. At last I’ll tell you about our studies and how we’re investigating microbial communities inhabit these curious speleothems.

Dr. Lisa Foschi
Dr. Lisa FoschiLaboratory of Molecular and Applied Microbiology, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology – FABIT, University of Bologna. Current position: Research fellow
I am A nerdy evolutionary biologist (class 1992) who likes communicating science 24/7. During the Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences, I discovered my passion for Astrobiology, the study of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. I’m mainly interested in extremophiles, microorganisms (such as Archea and Bacteria) able to thrive in extreme environments. During the master degree years, I had the chance to study microorganisms from a particular extreme environment: caves. During my internship, I worked on microbiological characterization of samples from the quarzitic cave Imawarì Yeuta (Venezuela), performing taxonomic and phylogenetic analysis. I am currently a research fellow at the Laboratory of Molecular and Applied Microbiology, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology (University of Bologna). I’m working with data obtained from different subterranean environments (limestone and sulfuric caves), contributing with taxonomic and phylogenetic analysis of present microbial communities and trying to understand how microbial activity influences the genesis of different secondary mineral deposits.

Why investigate the Microbiota of caves?

Because, beyond representing a natural heritage of biodiversity and contributing to the maintenance of the cave itself, the microbial components play a fundamental role in the assessment of anthropogenic impact and the state of caves, mainly in show caves, providing us natural living sensors such as bio-indicators.

Dr. Federico Biagioli
Dr. Federico BiagioliAffiliation: Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences (DEB) of the University of Tuscia, Viterbo (Italy). Current Position: PhD student
I am a molecular-cellular biologist (class 1986) and currently a PhD student at the Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences of the University of Tuscia. I feel that the driving force which led me to this point, was not only the will to reach a specific goal, but rather my curiosity to know the thousand aspects offered by the study of life on Earth. I have dug so long in the tangles of biology, passing from human physiology, metabolomics, proteomics, mass spectrometry until I got underground, alive, to investigate the microbiome of caves and the impact that human activities may have on it. Besides, the study of the microbial component of an extreme, spatially limited, oligotrophic and obscure environment such as caves, opens a straight path to the sky, addressing adaptation and survival strategies for research of life-signs in space.

Wednesday 16 June 2021, 9:00 - 10:00 pm

Introduced by Prof. Maddalena Del Gallo

Cave Microbial Survey: speleologists to support the subterranean microbiology.

Cave Microbial Survey is a citizen science-based data collection project which was designed to create a link between speleologists and the world of research. It focuses on subterranean microbiology, performed by using a (very easy to fill) digital support. In this science pill, an overview of all forms of microbial activity that can be detected at naked eye will be introduced, also mentioning all the topics of research that are closely linked to the microbiology of the subsurface. Finally, some scientific papers will be presented that used data from this project.

Dr. Ilaria Vaccarelli
Dr. Ilaria VaccarelliLaboratory of Molecular and Applied Microbiology, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology – FABIT, University of Bologna. Current position: Research fellow
I am a young speleologist (born in 1992) graduated in Environmental Biology at the University of L’Aquila. Both my thesis projects were on cave microbiology, with original data that I collected in natural and artificial caves. Further, I created, and currently manage an international project of data collection about the cave microflora, called Cave Microbial Survey. As the creator of this project, I have become a partner of an association of geographical explorations, named “Persephone explorations” since 2017. I took part in two international expeditions (Mavrovo Caving Project 2017- 2018), also winning a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project. As an aspiring microbiologist, I carry out my projects with determination, being sure that the subterranean microbiome is a valuable resource for the research on the Earth’s surface…and even on other planets!

“As long as there is light, there is life: cyanobacteria biofilm in hypogean environments”

In this seminar, I will describe the main methodologies for the characterization of phototrophic biofilms, mainly composed of cyanobacteria, sampled in hypogean environment. Data reported come from studies carried out in different Roman Catacombs, highlighting their common characteristics and their differences.

Dr. Lorenza Rugnini
Dr. Lorenza RugniniLaboratory of Biology of Algae, Department of Biology, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. Current position: Postdoc
Graduated in Industrial Biotechnology, with a PhD in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, I worked on the recovery of wastewater using microalgae, but in the last 5 years I discovered the fantastic world of hypogean environments. There too, there is life! and above all phototrophic biofilms composed mostly of cyanobacteria! The biological characterization of these microorganisms allows us to know their biodiversity and their ability to survive even in these environments, at low light intensity and high humidity. Furthermore, their knowledge makes it possible to develop control systems for their growth to avoid the biodeterioration of valuable cultural heritage sites.