Biology: Annual bat census
Jeff Grigg Jeff Page Max White
Biology Project Trip Report
Jeff Page and I arrived at the schoolhouse Friday evening to camp. Jeff Grigg and Max White drove in early Saturday morning. We all collected at the silo around 9:45 and were going down the shaft by 10:15.
The first part of the trip was traveling to and through the Water Barrier. Once past the water barrier, we stopped at a riffle which is marked by a blue reflector. At this riffle we counted and measured isopods. Similar count and measure operations were conducted by some of Dr. Ashley’s students on one of their trips. Isopods were measured by me, Jeff Grigg and Max White while Jeff Page took notes. Most were 3 to 5 mm long, with one at 9mm.
During the trip we paused every now and then for a spot check of rocks in the stream. Everywhere we looked we found isopods. A few of them were quite large, up to 12mm long. Here is a photo by Max White of a large isopod.
From there we proceeded to examine all of the marked guano piles between the Water Barrier and the Lunch Room. Most of the guano piles have received little or no use. A few have received heavy use. We photographed all the guano gauges, then cleaned and replaced them.
Jeff Page replacing a guano gauge.
We took a quick candy bar break at the Lunch Room. About 1pm we started the bat count. The bat count is taken from the Lunch Room to the Mountain Room, broken into intervals defined by the reflectors. We count bats in each interval, record the total, then reset the count for the next interval.
Along the way we saw three areas with clusters of bats. The bats in the clusters were fairly active, so our passage did not disturb them much. We stayed quiet and moved quickly past. The clustered bats were about twice the size of the pipestrelles we see everywhere in the cave, and their fur was much darker. It was almost black.
We saw several sculpins in the stream. Max photographed several of them. The biggest was perhaps 8 inches long. All were in advanced stages of starvation. One was so lethargic that it did not move even when Max put his camera in the water no more than 6 inches from it.
There were numerous salamanders in the stream and in the boot print puddles along the banks. We saw sizes ranging from about 2 inches to almost 5 inches long. All appeared to be grotto salamanders.
Grotto salamander in the stream.
We reached the Mountain Room about 4:30. Everyone fixed a hot meal and took a break. Max found what appeared to be a trout in the stream. He got some photos of it, but they are not very clear. He also found a frog, possibly a leopard or pickerel.
We left the Mountain Room at 5:40 for the trip back. We traveled at a reasonable pace, stopping for a few brief breaks. We reached the ladder about 8:30, geared up and climbed out. Everyone was out by 8:45.
We did not do a complete examination of the bait sticks. I noticed a lot of springtails on the bait sticks at the Water Barrier.
Jeff Grigg and Max went on home while Jeff Page and I camped another night.
Summary of data collected:
2mm = 1
3mm = 16
4mm = 21
5mm = 31
6mm = 14
7mm = 7
8mm = 8
9mm = 1
Guano gauge 1 = very little use. Perhaps 5% coverage, no more than 10 turds.
Guano gauge 2 = about 40% coverage.
Guano gauge 3 = lost, no data
Guano gauge 4a = A few spots, otherwise unused.
Guano gauge 4b = Completely covered to depth about 1cm
There was some fungus growing on the edge of guano pile 4.
Guano gauge 5 = a few turds, less than 5% coverage.
Guano gauge 6 = Unused.
Guano gauge 7 = Unused.
Guano gauge 8 = Unused.
Guano gauge 11 = about 80% covered.
(Note – These should be 12a and 12b)
Guano gauge 15a = 95% covered, depth about 5mm.
Guano gauge 15b = Completely covered, depth a bit less than 1cm. Fungus growing on the edges.
Guano gauge 13 = about 30% covered.
Guano gauge 14a = 2 turds.
Guano gauge 14b = This gauge was lying on its side. The top had a few turds on it, but was mostly clean.
Guano gauge 15a = Completely covered, about 1.5cm depth.
Guano gauge 15b = Completely covered, about 1.5cm depth.
Guano gauge 16 = Completely clean. This pile is downstream from the 2000 foot marker on the stream bank.
Mountain Room – I photographed two gauges. There are supposed to be four. The gauges do not have label flags on them. Both have a thin dusting, perhaps 25% coverage. We did not clean off these gauges.
Isopod riffle to guano pile 1 = 4. Not a formal count. 3 adult and 1 juvenile grotto salamander
Near guano pile 3 = 1 spider on the wall near where Andy Isbell found one last year.
Lunch Room to 6000 foot marker = 6 bats
6000 to 5000 foot = 40 bats, 1 salamander, 1 sculpin
5000 to 4500 foot = 36 bats
4000 to 3500 foot = 40 bats, 2 salamanders, 1 small cluster, about 1/2 square foot.
3500 to 3000 foot = 29 bats
3000 to 2500 foot = 29 bats, 1 juvenile salamander
2500 to 2000 foot = 39 bats
2000 to 1500 foot = 26 bats, 1 cluster of bats about 6 square feet. They were in lines on the ceiling.
1500 to 1000 foot = 20 bats
1000 to 500 foot = 32 bats, Bunch of clustered bats right at the 500 foot marker. 10 to 15 square feet of coverage
500 foot to Mountain room = No data.