For the first time the meiofauna of the rocky walls of a submarine cave was studied. The cave, known as il Ciolo (Strait of Otranto, south-east Italy) is a closed tunnel about 125 m long, with a maximum depth of 6 m below sea level. The meiofauna was collected from artificial panels and natural rocky walls. This double approach enabled: (1) the description of the community’s initial organization (on artificial substrata), and (2), especially for Harpacticoida, its mature composition (on rocky walls), which also helped to establish spatial differences. The collected samples yielded 70 taxa in total. Harpacticoida represented the most important group of organisms in terms of both abundance and identified taxa. The meiofauna assemblage appeared not to be affected by community age, with the exception of the very early stage. The meiofauna of the cave showed assemblage differences from the entrance to the innermost positions, but not as evident as in the case of the macrobenthos. The similarity of community composition at different ages (6, 12 and 24 months) and at different positions along the cave could be the consequence of the specimens’ vagility
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