Biospeleology of the Piemonte
(North-western Italy)

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Arthropoda, Arachnida, Acari

Arachnida, Acari, Bdellidae, Rhagidia sp. - This is a very little species of troglobite mite very specialized of which the author found only 5 specimens in 5 years of search by means of fatiguing descents in the Bacardi Abyss (Prato Nevoso, Cima Artesinera). It lives exclusively on the surface of little pools formed by the dropping water along the "Meandro delle Azzorre" (Azores' Meander) about 200 m below the entrance of the cave. The specimens in the photo are the firsts (captured by the author in 1995) and are dead before the arrival to the opening during the going up again from the depth of the abyss; probably this is due to their extreme sensitivity to the sudden changes of temperature and humidity. The author plans to go down soon in the abyss with the photographic equipping in order to photographe living specimens. Probably this Acari feed organic debris on the surface of the groundwaters or maybe they are active predators of the little specialized insects Collembola that live in the same habitat. Their lengthened legs, dressed by long bristles and ending whit a water-repellent button, permit them to skate on the water surface and, also if submerged, they emerge perfectly dry thanks to their bristles. (Real size of the body: about 1.5 mm).

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