6/4/12 – Biology – Dr. Ashley student trip

Permit #:  1206-01
Trip Leader name:  Bill Gee

Trip date:  4 June 2012
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Biology – Dr. Ashley student trip
Areas of Cave visited:  Convention Hall
Trip participants:  Bill Gee, David Ashley, Students
Entry Time:  9:30 am
Exit Time:  4:45 pm
The trip report:  Students:
Ian Newport
Jake Trimmer
Tracy Zander

This is the annual trip with Dr. Ashley and students from his “Ozark Cave Biology” class.  The class is sponsored by St. Louis University and involves three weeks of intensive field work studying flora and fauna of Missouri caves.  Carroll Cave is one of the caves they visit.

I drove down early Monday morning arriving at the schoolhouse a few minutes after 8:00 am.  I went straight up the hill to the silo and rigged the rope, then came back down to the schoolhouse.  Dr. Ashley and his three students arrived at 8:45am.  After introductions we all drove up the hill.

With a small group, it did not take long to get everyone geared up.  Dr. Ashley went down the hole first so he could take photos as each student got in.  I stayed at the top to help everyone get on the rope safely.  Everyone was in the cave by 10:00am.

All of the bait sticks in the cave are several years old and are getting pretty much used up.  A week before the trip I took the opportunity to do some tree trimming at my house.  Several of the limbs I took out were suitable for bait sticks.  I drilled holes in them for tags, then put them in ziplock bags.  Before we entered the cave, Ian attached a numbered aluminum tag to each stick using stainless steel wire.  At every bait station in the cave we left two new sticks.

The first stop was the bait sticks located at the ladder.  Dr. Ashley and the students examined the sticks and made notes.  We then moved on to the bait sticks by the shortcut to Thunder Falls.  At both stations we left two new sticks.  The old sticks remain.

After the first two bait stations we took a side trip over to Thunder Falls.  The stream was flowing at normal low levels.  Everyone got a good look at the lip.  We took photos, then moved up to the overlook for more photos.

From Thunder Falls we went back to the ladder and then on to upstream Thunder River.  There are two tile stations in the river.  We stopped to examine both sets and take notes.  Dr. Ashley found snails on almost every tile.  Additional data was collected using a Kestrel, a probe thermometer for water temperature and a laser thermometer for cave wall and roosting bats.

At the entrance to UL2 we examined the bait sticks, then took a few minutes to admire the formations.

UL2 side passage always has a dense population of cave fish and other critters.  At every opportunity we stopped to count and measure fish.  There is a tile station several hundred feet into the passage.  We found several grotto salamanders, many cave fish, snails and some isopods.

The group arrived at UL2 about 1:00pm.  We examined the bait sticks, then had lunch.  After lunch I guided the students up to the overlook area while Dr. Ashley attempted to get a photo from the bottom of the dome.

There was plenty of time, so the entire group went on to the Conference Room.  The bait sticks there were examined and a new pair of sticks was left.

On the way out we stopped for a quick look at the formations.  The next stop in the main cave was Flat Rock Falls.  This is “isopod central”.  There is also a bait station and some tiles.  We found only four of the tiles.  The fifth may be in the pool directly under the waterfall.  Two of the tiles in the upstream pool were washed under the lip.

Data was recorded concerning the size and count of isopods.  We also took data about area density.  Several sections about 1 foot square were chosen.  Each section was counted for a total population of isopods.

The trip from Flat Rock Falls back to the ladder took about 45 minutes.  We arrived at the ladder about 4:00 and geared up.  Everyone climbed in a single group.  I went first so I could help get the others off the rope safely.  We were all out of the cave by 4:45pm.  It took another 30 minutes or so to change and cleanup.  Bill Pfantz came over and introduced himself

Since Dr. Ashley and his group was going the opposite direction from me, we did not try to stop for dinner.

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