In cave ecosystems tourists represent moving sources of discontinuous disturbances, able to induce transient system responses whose knowledge is crucial in deﬁning appropriate conservation measures. Here we propose an approach to evaluate the amplitude and scales of cave alterations based on high-resolution air monitoring, through the use of purposely developed low-cost monitoring stations and a consistent analytical framework for information retrieval based on time series analysis. In particular, monitoring stations adopt a modular structure based on physical computing platforms acquiring data through several sensors, with means of preventing humidity damages and guaranteeing their continuous operation. Data are then analyzed using wavelet periodograms and cross-periodograms to extract the scales of tourism-induced alterations. The approach has been exempliﬁed in the Pertosa-Auletta Cave, one of the most important underground environments in Southern Italy, highlighting the development of monitoring stations and the information obtainable with the proposed analytical workﬂow. Here, 2 monitoring stations acquiring data for 1 year at 1′ sampling time on temperature, relative humidity, CO2, VOCs, and particulate matter were deployed in trails subjected to different levels of tourism. In terms of Pertosa-Auletta Cave air dynamics, the approach allowed estimating the temporal and spatial scales of tourism-induced alterations in the order of minutes and meters, respectively, with parameter-dependent variations. On more general terms, the approach proved reliable and effective, with its modularity and low-cost fostering its straightforward adoption in other underground ecosystems, where it can support the development of tailored management strategies.
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