10/24/09 – Annual bat census trip to Mountain Room

Trip date: 24 Oct 2009
Trip purpose: Bat census
Trip participants: Justace Clutter, Jerry Cindric, Jeff Grigg
Entry Time: 9:30am
Exit Time: 6:30pm
The trip report: Biology Project Trip Report

Areas visited – Carroll Passage to Mountain Room

This was the annual bat census trip down Carroll Passage. We do this trip every year to get an idea of how the bats are using the cave. We also look for other critters.

Everyone was at the cave shortly after 9:00am. We all drove up the hill, changed and rigged the shaft. The first person down was at 9:30am and we were all in the cave by about 9:45.

The trek down Carroll Passage through the Water Barrier to the first riffle took about 30 minutes. We stopped at the first riffle to do an isopod count. This location has been used several times in the past for isopod counts. While traveling through we downloaded data from the stream level data loggers in Thunder and Carroll rivers.

From there we proceeded to the guano piles. I took pictures of all the guano gauges to document their state, then they were rinsed off and put back in the pile. There were no surprises from the guano gauges. All the gauges that were used in the past were used again.

Two of the gauges from past years had invalid numbers on them. They were labeled as 15a and 15b but were really 12a and 12b. We relabeled these two gauges. Three of the four gauges in the Mountain Room were not labeled at all. We added labels to these. They are now numbers 31, 32 and 33.

We looked for spiders and planaria but did not find any. All the guano piles were heavily infested with gnats. We found about a half dozen beetles on guano pile 2.

We reached the Lunch Room about straight up noon. The waterfall in the ceiling was flowing, though not as strong as the last time I saw it several years ago. We took a quick candy bar break, then started in on the bat count.

The practice for the bat count is to separate the cave into sections based on the reflectors installed many years ago by Lake Ozark Grotto. For each segment we keep a running count of bats and other interesting things. At the end of each section we record the data, then start over for the next section.

The only really surprising thing we found this year was a lack of bat clusters. In years past we have seen clusters up to several thousand individuals between the 4500 and 2500 foot markers. This year we only saw two small clusters of a few hundred individual, and they were at the 500 foot marker.

We saw quite a few cave fish on this trip, and a number of grotto salamanders. At guano pile three we found 6 or 8 salamanders in the river within about 30 feet of each other.

We reached the Mountain Room about 3:00pm. Everyone had a meal. We documented the four guano gauges in the Mountain Room, then packed up for the trip back. We left the Mountain Room about 3:45.

The trip back seems longer than it really is. We wound up back at the ladder a few minutes after 6:00 for a time of about two and a half hours. Everyone was out of the cave at 6:30. We cleaned up and were heading down the hill at 7:00pm. Rick Hines was at the school house with a nice warm bonfire for us.

Summary of data collected:

Isopod counts and sizes:

3mm = 15
4mm = 18
5mm = 18
6mm = 12
7mm = 2
8mm = 1
9mm = 1
13mm = 1
15mm = 1

Grotto Salamanders at guano pile 3:
Not measured = 1
5cm = 5
7cm = 1
8cm = 1
9cm = 2
10cm = 1

Cave fish at guano pile 3:
Not measured = 1
4cm = 3

At guano pile 6:
3 fish about 4cm
3 salamanders 5 to 6cm, 1 about 3cm

At guano pile 12a:
1 fish about 4cm
2 bats.

These guano gauges are between the isopod riffle and the Lunch Room.

Guano gauge 1 = Very little use. About 20% coverage.
Guano gauge 2 = Thin layer of guano, about 60% coverage.
Guano gauge 3 = Lost. Needs to be replaced. The pile this gauge would go in looks like it gets little or no use.
Guano gauge 4a = Only a few turds. Less than 10% coverage.
Guano gauge 4b = Completely covered to depth about 1cm. Partly tipped over.

Guano gauge 5 = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 6 = A dozen or so turds, about 10% coverage.
Guano gauge 7 = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 8 = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 11 = Completely clean.

Guano gauge 12a = About 80% covered, depth 3 to 5 mm.
Guano gauge 12b = Almost completely covered. Depth about 5mm.
Guano gauge 13 = About 90% covered, depth 3 to 5 mm.
Guano gauge 14a = Completely covered, depth about 1.5cm
Guano gauge 14b = about 50% covered, depth 2 or 3mm.

Guano gauge 15a = Completely covered, depth over 1.5cm.
Guano gauge 15b = Mostly clean. Less than 10% coverage.

Guano gauge 16 = Clean. This gauge is on the side of Carroll River downstream from the 2000 foot marker.

Mountain Room –
Guano Gauge 30 = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 31 = Completely clean.
Guano gauge 32 = About 20% coverage.
Guano Gauge 33 = Light dusting, about 10% coverage.

Bat count data:

Lunch room to 6000 feet = 11 bats
6000 to 5000 foot = 42 bats, two bats probably mating
5000 to 4500 foot = 32 bats
4500 to 4000 foot = 21 bats, 1 grotto salamander, one small fish 2 or 3 cm.
4000 to 3500 foot = 28 bats, one fish 3 or 4 inches long, unidentified.
3500 to 3000 foot = 19 bats
3000 to 2500 foot = 18 bats, one small fish
2500 to 2000 foot = 25 bats
2000 to 1500 foot = 46 bats, one cluster of about 15 bats.
1500 to 1000 foot = 9 bats, one fish
1000 to 500 foot = 33 bats plus two clusters about 200 and 300 individuals. 2 sculpins in the stream, about 10cm
500 to Mountain Room = 30 bats
At the mountain Room we saw what is probably a small perch in the stream. It was about 7 or 8cm long.

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