Marco Isaia

Marco Isaia
Università degli Studi di Torino | UNITO · Life Science and Systems Biology

PhD

About

211
Publications
78,531
Reads
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2,663
Citations
Introduction
I am Associate Professor at the University of Torino. My scientific activity focuses primarily on spiders, both on systematics and ecology, with special reference to subterranean spiders and cave ecosystems. At present, my group represents the only team in the Italian Academic community active in Araneology. I am Council Member of the European Society of Arachnology and Member of the expert board of Araneae-Spiders of Europe. I teach Ecology and Ecosystem Dynamics at the University of Torino.
Additional affiliations
March 2013 - present
Università degli Studi di Torino
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Ecology (Bachelor Students, Natural Sciences)
February 2008 - present
Università degli Studi di Torino
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Ecomosaic and Environmental Assessment (Master Students, Natural Sciences)
January 2008 - November 2010
Università degli Studi di Torino
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • Biomonitoring (Master students)
Education
November 2002 - November 2005
Amedeo Avogadro University of Eastern Piedmont
Field of study
  • Environmental Science
November 2001 - November 2002
Politecnico di Torino
Field of study
  • Environmental Engeneering
November 1994 - November 1999
Università degli Studi di Torino
Field of study
  • Natural Science

Publications

Publications (211)
Article
Full-text available
Subterranean ecosystems are among the most widespread environments on Earth, yet we still have poor knowledge of their biodiversity. To raise awareness of subterranean ecosystems, the essential services they provide, and their unique conservation challenges, 2021 and 2022 were designated International Years of Caves and Karst. As these ecosystems h...
Preprint
The metacommunity framework has been rarely adopted to investigate the underlying ecological mechanisms shaping microbial communities. With the aid of advanced molecular techniques, we investigated sediment communities of Fungi, Bacteria and Archaea in four Italian show caves aiming to disentangle the effects induced by tourists on species richness...
Preprint
Full-text available
The genus Troglohyphantes Joseph, 1881 (Araneae, Linyphiidae) includes 131 species, mainly distributed across the main European mountain ranges. The Alps and the North-western Dinarides account for 66 species, most of them showing narrow or even point-like distributions. The majority of Troglohyphantes spiders dwell in subterranean habitats includi...
Article
Full-text available
Species traits are an essential currency in ecology, evolution, biogeography, and conservation biology. However, trait databases are unavailable for most organisms, especially those living in difficult-to- access habitats such as caves and other subterranean ecosystems. We compiled an expert-curated trait database for subterranean spiders in Europe...
Article
The integration of multiple lines of evidence in the delimitation of taxa is becoming the gold standard in modern taxonomy and systematics. However, multi-layered taxonomy is still incipient when it comes to species description within a mega-diverse group of organisms (e.g. arthropods), especially those inhabiting secluded environments such as cave...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Many ecological and evolutionary studies require to quantify the degree of adaptation of subterranean species to caves or other subterranean systems. In 1962, Kenneth A. Christiansen (1924-2017) coined the term "troglomorphism" to illustrate the process of subterranean adaptation and the suite of adaptive traits of organisms ("troglomorphic traits"...
Article
Full-text available
Mass media plays an important role in the construction and circulation of risk perception associated with animals. Widely feared groups such as spiders frequently end up in the spotlight of traditional and social media. We compiled an expert-curated global database on the online newspaper coverage of human-spider encounters over the past ten years...
Article
Full-text available
The great diversity of the invertebrate community thriving in the deepest sections of the gypsum karst system of the Monte Conca sinkhole (Sicily, Italy) suggests the existence of a complex food web associated with a sulfidic pool and chemoautotrophic microbial activity. To shed light on the peculiarity of this biological assemblage, we investigate...
Preprint
Full-text available
In the Internet era, the digital architecture that keeps us connected and informed may collaterally amplify the spread of misinformation and falsehood1,2. The magnitude of this problem is gaining global relevance3, as evidence accumulates that misinformation interferes with democratic processes and undermines collective responses to environmental a...
Conference Paper
Over the past decades, interest for the underground karst environments has grown remarkably, not only from the scientific viewpoint, but also from an economic perspective. The so-called “show caves” are caves open to the public for touristic purposes, managed by a governmental or commercial organization. The numbers of visitors (up to 500,000/year/...
Article
Full-text available
Spiders are a highly diversified group of arthropods and play an important role in terrestrial ecosystems as ubiquitous predators, which makes them a suitable group to test a variety of eco-evolutionary hypotheses. For this purpose, knowledge of a diverse range of species traits is required. Until now, data on spider traits have been scattered acro...
Article
The impacts of extreme and rising mean temperatures due to climate change can pose significant physiological challenges for insects. An integrated approach that focuses on mechanisms of body temperature regulation, water balance and morphology may help to unravel the functional traits underpinning thermoregulation strategies and the most relevant t...
Article
When artificial lighting systems are installed in show caves, alien photosynthetic epilithic prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms —the so-called ‘lampenflora’— form extended biofilms on cave speleothems, causing structural and aesthetic damage. Among the environmental drivers influencing their proliferation, light intensity and duration of ill...
Article
Full-text available
In the venom of spiders, linear peptides (LPs), also called cytolytical or antimicrobial peptides, represent a largely neglected group of mostly membrane active substances that contribute in some spider species considerably to the killing power of spider venom. By next-generation sequencing venom gland transcriptome analysis, we investigated 48 spi...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Historically, research on global distribution patterns has mostly concentrated on conspicuous organisms and thus a large proportion of biodiversity on Earth remains unmapped. We examined the global distribution of palpigrades, a poorly studied group of low dispersive arachnids specialized to subterranean life. We asked what is their typical ran...
Article
Despite their ecological importance and diversity, spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) are underrepresented in conservation policies in comparison to other groups. We review all extant conservation tools focusing on spiders in Europe, highlighting general patterns, limitations, gaps, and future directions. We assembled a comprehensive online database repo...
Article
Full-text available
Human activities in subterranean environments can affect different ecosystem components, including the resident fauna. Subterranean terrestrial invertebrates are particularly sensitive to environmental change, especially microclimatic variations. For instance, microclimate modifications caused by the visitors may directly affect local fauna in cave...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated the ecological requirements in the emergence phase of two congeneric species of Aeshnidae, Aeshna grandis (Linnaeus 1758) and A. juncea (Linnaeus 1758), occurring in syntopy at the southernmost limit of their range. We sampled the exuviae of the two species at the peak of their emergence in three lakes in NW Italy. In each lake we d...
Cover Page
Nota all'edizione italiana "Ragni del Mondo"
Article
Full-text available
1. Spiders are able to arouse strong emotional reactions in humans. While spider bites are statistically rare events, our perception is skewed towards the potential harm spiders can cause to humans. Nevertheless, there is still limited understanding of the role of the media in spreading (mis)information about them thereby promoting this distorted p...
Article
Full-text available
A main goal of ecological and evolutionary biology is understanding and predicting interactions between populations and both abiotic and biotic environments, the spatial and temporal variation of these interactions, and the effects on population dynamics and performance. Trait-based approaches can help to model these interactions and generate a com...
Article
1. Although caves are generally perceived as isolated habitats, at the local scale, they are often interconnected via a network of fissures in the bedrock. Accordingly, caves in close proximity are expected to host the same, or very similar, animal communities. 2. We explored the extent to which subterranean arthropod communities are homogenous at...
Article
Full-text available
Urbanization is a complex process associated with environmental changes affecting many biotic and abiotic ecosystem components, which cause the alteration of biological communities, habitat features, connectivity and stability. In particular, the urbanization process is usually associated with a decrease in species richness that parallels a general...
Article
1. Ecological specialisation is an important mechanism enhancing species coexistence within a given community. Yet, unravelling the effect of multiple selective evolutionary and ecological factors leading the process of specialisation remains a key challenge in ecology. Subterranean habitats provide highly replicated experimental arenas in which to...
Preprint
Full-text available
Spiders are able to arouse strong emotional reactions in humans. While spider bites are statistically rare events, our perception is skewed towards the potential harm spiders can cause to humans. We examined the human dimension of spiders through the lens of traditional media, by analysing more than 300 spider-related news published online in Itali...
Article
The conversion of natural lands in urban areas is exponentially increasing worldwide, causing a major decline in biodiversity. Environmental alterations caused by urbanization, such as land conversion and isolation of natural patches, favour tolerant and generalist species, causing both species loss and replacement. In addition, selective pressure...
Article
The spider genus Histopona Thorell, 1869 (Araneae: Agelenidae) includes several species that exhibit a preference for subterranean conditions, being occasionally or exclusively found in caves, crevices and similar habitats. Within the genus, the species displaying the highest level of subterranean adaptation is possibly H. palaeolithica (Brignoli,...
Article
Full-text available
In this contribution we present the Catalog of Italian spiders, produced on the base of the available scientific information regarding spider species distribution in Italy. We analysed an amount of 1124 references, resulting in a list of 1670 species and subspecies, grouped in 434 genera and 53 families. Information on spider biodiversity in Italy...
Article
Full-text available
Macroecologists seek to identify drivers of community turnover (β-diversity) through broad spatial scales. However, the influence of local habitat features in driving broad-scale β-diversity patterns remains largely untested, owing to the objective challenges of associating local-scale variables to continental-framed datasets. We examined the relat...
Article
Full-text available
Background Spiders (Arachnida: Araneae) are widespread in subterranean ecosystems worldwide and represent an important component of subterranean trophic webs. Yet, global-scale diversity patterns of subterranean spiders are still mostly unknown. In the frame of the CAWEB project, a European joint network of cave arachnologists, we collected data on...
Article
1. Janzen's hypothesis (1967; American Naturalist) predicts that tropical habitats with reduced thermal seasonality would select for species with narrow thermal tolerance, thereby limiting dispersal among sites of different elevations showing little overlap in temperature. These predictions have so far been tested by confronting tropical and temper...
Article
In theory, the highest‐quality habitat across a species’ range should support individuals with the highest fitness, making it possible to evaluate the outputs of species distribution models (SDMs) by exploring the relationship between habitat quality and functional traits related to species’ fitness. However, this relationship has been tested almos...
Article
In light of recent alarming trends in human population growth, climate change, and other environmental modifications, a "Warning to humanity" manifesto was published in BioScience in 2017. This call reiterated most of the ideas originally expressed by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1992, including the fear that we are "pushing Earth's ecosyst...
Article
Biogeographic studies often underline the role of glacial dynamism during Pleistocene (1.806–0.011 Mya) in shaping the distribution of subterranean species. Accordingly, it is presumed that present-day distribution of most specialized cold-adapted (cryophilic) cave-dwelling species should bear the signatures of past climatic events. To test this id...
Article
Scientists of different disciplines have recognized the valuable role of terrestrial caves as ideal natural laboratories in which to study multiple eco-evolutionary processes, from genes to ecosystems. Because caves and other subterranean habitats are semi-closed systems characterized by a remarkable thermal stability, they should also represent in...
Article
We present an inventory of the spider species of the municipality of Barcelonnette (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France), based on the material collected during the “Explor’Nature Barcelonnette” event, organised by the Mercantour National Park, from 30th June to 2nd July 2017. We report a total of 120 species, representing 83 genera and 25 families. Fo...
Article
The type-genus of the mygalomorph spider family Ctenizidae (Cteniza) is newly diagnosed and described. The type-species of Cteniza (C. sauvagesi) is reestablished by describing and designating a neotype collected at the type locality of the species, in Corsica. Alongside the female neotype, the male of C. sauvagesi is redescribed, as well as both s...
Chapter
Despite subterranean communities being relatively simple, their precise characterization still represents an interesting ecological challenge. This is mostly because, due to the inaccessibility of most subterranean habitats, the spatial boundaries and the species composition of the communities are difficult to define. In this chapter, we describe t...
Article
Speciation in subterranean habitats is commonly explained as the result of divergent selection in geographically isolated populations; conversely, the contribution of niche partitioning in driving subterranean species diversification has been rarely quantified. The present study integrated molecular and morphological data with a hypervolume analysi...
Article
Full-text available
Being characterized by the absence of light and a reduced environmental cyclicity, the subterranean domain is generally regarded as temporally stable. Yet, in the proximity of cave entrances (twilight zones), patterns of sunlight and darkness can be detected within the 24-hour day–night cycle. In parallel, changes in the abiotic and biotic conditio...
Article
Different spider species living in the urban environment spin their webs on building facades. Due to air pollution, web aggregations entrap dirt particles over time, assuming a brownish-greyish colouration and thus determining an aesthetic impact on buildings and street furniture. In Europe, the most common species causing such an aesthetic nuisanc...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In light of the reduced diversity and abundance of species, subterranean habitats represent ideal models systems in which to investigate characters displacement in species sharing the same habitat. In order to minimize direct competition, it is expected that sibling species occupying the same subterranean habitat should differentiate their morpholo...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Subterranean ecosystems offer intriguing opportunities to study mechanisms underlying responses to changes in climate because species within them are often adapted to largely constant temperatures. However, responses of specialized subterranean species to anthropogenic climate warming are still largely undiscussed. We combined physiological tests,...
Article
We provide the first overview on spiders living in subterranean habitats in Europe, including the first European subterranean spider checklist. In Europe, there are 486 spider species known to dwell in caves and other subterranean habitats, distributed across 22 families. Despite a few species being able to colonize caves across the whole continent...
Article
Full-text available
Morphological descriptions of P. proxima (C. L. Koch, 1847) (= P. vlijmi den Hollander & Dijkstra, 1974, syn. nov.) and its sister species P. tenuipes L. Koch, 1882 (= P. proxima auct.), a pair of species hardly distinguishable on a morphological basis but easily separable through behavioural characters, are given. The identification on an ethologi...
Article
Full-text available
The great raft spider, Dolomedes plantarius, is a semi-aquatic spider species with an Eurosiberian distribution. As a result of habitat loss and degradation, in 1996 the species was classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, but since then the status has never been updated. We present the frame of the existing knowledge on...
Article
Full-text available
Spiders are an important group of terrestrial invertebrates, that colonized virtually all available habitats on Earth. Despite their ecological importance and their diversity – so far more than 47000 spider species have been described, – spiders are still under-represented in conservation policies and conservation biology, especially compared to ot...
Article
Full-text available
Subterranean ecosystems present ideal opportunities to study mechanisms underlying responses to changes in climate because species within them are often adapted to a largely constant temperature. We have characterized the thermal conditions of caves in the Western Alps, and related these hypogean climate data to the occurrence of Troglohyphantes sp...
Article
Full-text available
We studied the ecological continuum between caves and the associated network of fissures-Milieu Sou-terrain Superficiel (MSS)-in an hypogean site in the Graian Alps, Italy. Over one year, we surveyed the faunal assemblages by means of pitfall traps placed in the caves and specific subterranean sampling devices (SSD) buried in the MSS. We used gener...
Article
Full-text available
Organismal biology has been steadily losing fashion in both formal education and scientific research. Simultaneous with this is an observable decrease in the connection between humans, their environment, and the organisms with which they share the planet. Nonetheless, we propose that organismal biology can facilitate scientific observation, discove...
Data
Official biological record held by spiders in the Guinness World Records database (www.guinnessworldrecords.com). This file contains comments about the official biological records held by spiders as listed in the Guinness World Records database (www.guinnessworldrecords.com). For each record, we report the record holder according to the Guinness Wo...
Preprint
Full-text available
The public reputation of spiders is that they are deadly poisonous, brown and nondescript, and hairy and ugly. There are tales describing how they lay eggs in human skin, frequent toilet seats in airports, and crawl into your mouth when you are sleeping. Misinformation about spiders in the popular media and on the World Wide Web is rampant, leading...
Article
Full-text available
1. Patterns of species richness and species assemblage composition of ground-dwelling arthropods in primary successions along glacier forelands are traditionally described using a taxonomic approach. On the other hand, the functional trait approach could ensure a better characterisation of their colonisation strategies in these types of habitat. 2...
Article
AimTo describe the distribution of two congeneric species of cave-dwelling spiders under current climatic conditions and future warming scenarios, keeping into account their bioclimatic requirements, dispersal capacity and competition dynamics. LocationEurope and North Africa. Methods We gathered detailed occurrence data for Meta menardi and M. bou...
Article
Debris-covered glaciers are glaciers with the largest part of the ablation zone covered by a debris layer. Recent papers showed that debris-covered glaciers are able to support plant and arthropod life, advancing the hypothesis that such landforms could act as warm-stage refugia for cold-adapted species due to their microclimate features and therma...