6/2/2014 – Annual biology field trip

Trip date:  2 June 2014
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Dr. Ashley student trip
Areas of Cave visited:  Convention Hall
Trip participants:  Bill Gee – David Ashley – Students (see report)
Entry Time:  10:00am
Exit Time:  5:30pm
The trip report:  Participants – Bill Gee (trip leader)
David Ashley
Students:      Rebecca Tipton
Shivani Parikh
Andrew Para
Arjun Bajaj

This was the annual Carroll Cave trip for Dr. Ashley and his Ozark Cave Biology students.  I drove down Friday night and camped at the schoolhouse.  Dr. Ashley and his students arrived at 8:45.  After introductions and quick visits to the skycrapper, we all drove up the hill.

Everyone geared up.  The first person down the shaft was Andrew at about 10:00am.  We were all in the cave by 10:30.  Rebecca got her hair caught in her rappel rack but managed to clear the situation on her own.

I gave a quick demonstration of the data loggers by downloading the barometric pressure logger at the ladder.  While everyone else looked at a set of bait sticks in the landing zone, I went down to the river to download the second data logger.

From there we went over to the Thunder Falls shortcut.  Another set of bait sticks was examined.  The trip through the shortcut went fairly fast.  The stream was down from normal level by perhaps an inch or two.

We went out to the lip of Thunder Falls and took pictures, then admired the view from the overlook.  We went back through the shortcut to the ladder, arriving about 11:30am.  Lunch was had by all.

The trip upstream to UL2 took longer than I expected.  There were many fish in the stream to measure and record data on.  The two tile stations had snails on almost every tile.  One of the tiles had an isopod on it.  They are almost never found on the tiles.

We arrived at the UL2 entrance about 1:30.  The group climbed up to admire the formations and take some photos.  The bait sticks were examined, then we continued on into UL2.

In past years we have divided the team at this point.  One part would do the full survey in UL2 while the other would go on up to Flat Rock Falls to count isopods.  Since we had only one guide (me!), we decided to skip Flat Rock Falls this time.

UL2 proved to have the usual abundance of fish.  We saw some larval salamanders and one small adult grotto salamander.  I downloaded the UL2 data logger as we went by.  We arrived at Convention Hall about 3:30pm.

The bait station in Convention Hall was examined.  Everyone had a candy bar.  I took the students up to the overlook while David stayed below and took some photos.

We then all went to the Conference Room to examine the bait sticks there.  The bait sticks in the Conference Room did not have any critters on them, not even a springtail.  The fungal mat that grew out from the sticks is still there, but is no longer alive.  I do not recall any previous occasion where we found absolutely nothing on any stick at a bait station.

The group left Convention Hall about 4:30.  The trip back to the ladder went much faster since we were no longer looking for fish.  We arrived at the ladder about 5:20.  Everyone geared up.  I climbed first so I could help people get off the rope.  The rest climbed as a group.  Everyone was out by 5:30.

The total fish count was over 80.  Dr. Ashley thinks it was the second-highest total among all the trips we have done.

Bill Gee

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