Thursday, August 21, 2008

50 cave trips; 10 days; 2 ecoregions. We just finished the field portion of a study designed to strengthen our ability to measure the success of conservation actions used in karst ecosystems. Partnering with researchers from American University, Washington DC, the study was conducted in caves from two different karst ecoregions: the Ozark Highlands of Arkansas and the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.

Bats vs. Cats. With the help of Bella Vista Townhouse Association and a couple of friendly cat wranglers, we successfully removed 7 feral cats from an important gray bat maternity cave in Bella Vista. In the past, feral cats have killed over 100 gray bats in the cave. The cave is home to 15,000 gray bats that use the cave to raise their pups during the summer months. The cats were removed from the cave using animal friendly Have-A-Heart traps and given to a cat rescue service for adoption.

Bats vs. Vandals. We are working with Buffalo National River staff to set up long term biological monitoring stations in Cave Mountain Cave, near Boxley, AR. The work is part of an environmental assessment being conducted by NPS to determine feasibility of installing a new gate at the cave. The cave, which houses ~250,000 hibernating gray bats, is closed during winter months, but vandals continue to enter the cave and have killed several thousands bats.

In the Media. We worked with Jacqueline Froelich of National Public Radio (NPR) to highlight karst monitoring at Sherfield Cave, TNC’s Smith Creek Preserve, and our international karst conservation work. The story aired locally on NPR’s Ozarks At Large program in June and aired nationally on NPR’s Day to Day program earlier this August. Here is a link to NPR's Day to Day segment:

Notes From the Underground. We continue to expand our knowledge about Arkansas’ rare karst fauna. Specimens of an undescribed cave millipede were collected from a cave near Batesville, AR. These individuals will be used in the scientific description of the new cave species. The new millipede is part of a growing list of discoveries made by us in Arkansas caves.