5/31/10 – Biology Project Trip Report

Trip date:  31 May 2010
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Biology – Dr. Ashley students
Areas of Cave visited:  Convention Hall
Trip participants:  David Ashley, DJ Hall, Beth Drury, Ryan Frey, students
Entry Time:  10:15am
Exit Time:  6:15pm
The trip report:  Biology Project Trip Report

Date of trip – 31 May 2010

Participants –    Bill Gee (leader)
DJ Hall (leader)
David Ashley
Bethany Drury
Ryan Frey
Justin Baker (student)
Rubina Baig (student)
Zack Bowles (student)
Jessicah Hard (student)

Time in – 10:15am
Time out – 6:15pm

Areas visited – Thunder Falls, Flat Rock Falls, Convention Hall

This was the annual trip for Dr. Ashley and his Ozark Cave Biology class.  Everyone gathered at the schoolhouse Monday morning.  Dr. Ashley and his students were about 15 minutes late.  We chatted for a few minutes and then headed up the hill.

Ben Miller went up the hill with us.  While we were gearing up, he did a very fast 10 minute trip down the ladder to gather a water sample for ion analysis.  He was down and back up before we were ready to go down.  Ben then left to continue with other work related to his dye tracing project.

We were all geared up and ready to go down the hole by shortly after 10:00 am.  DJ Hall went first so he could help people get off the rope when they got to the bottom.  I stayed on the basement level to help everyone get on the rope safely.  I was the last one into the cave a few minutes before 11:00 am.

Once in the cave I outlined the plan for the day.  I demonstrated how the data loggers are downloaded.  Dr. Ashley demonstrated how the bait sticks are examined using the pair which is right at the ladder.  DJ took off with the group toward Thunder Falls while I went down to the river to download a data logger.  I caught up with them while they were still in the shortcut passage.

Thunder River was running about 6 to 8 inches above normal flow.  Everyone was impressed by Thunder Falls.  DJ took some photos of the group at the lip of the falls, then we headed back to the ladder.

From the ladder we took the overland route past the trail to the Angel Pool.  The point where the trail finally hits the river has some tiles which we placed during a trip in January 2010.  The group stopped to examine the tiles to see if any biomass had accumulated.  A number of snails were found.

We headed upstream several hundred feet to a second set of tiles which were also examined.  These tiles had fewer snails on them.  One of them had been moved by the force of the current.

We arrived at the entrance to UL2 about 1:00 pm.  I took Jessicah, Jason and Ryan on up to Flat Rock Falls where we had lunch and then did a fairly complete count of isopods.  We counted close to a hundred, but they were all fairly small.  The largest was around 7 or 8mm long.  We also examined the bait stick (only one at this site).  The bait stick had no bugs on it but a fair bit of mold and fungus.

While we were heading to Flat Rock Falls, DJ took everyone else into UL2.  They performed a detailed inventory of critters in the stream.  When my team caught up, they were just outside Convention Hall looking at some very large cave fish.  They reported having found over 20 cave fish.

Everyone got into Convention Hall by around 4:00 pm.  The bait sticks were examined, then most people went up to the overlook.  Several Kestral readings were taking both at the bottom of the dome and up on the overlook.  We left about 4:45 to head back.

Just outside the entrance to UL2 is another set of bait sticks.  This set was half-buried in mud where the slope had slumped.  The slumped mud was very sloppy and wet.  Dr. Ashley examined the bait sticks and found very little on them.  We washed the mud off and placed them a bit higher on the slope.

The trip back to the ladder was uneventful.  We arrived at the ladder about 5:30.  Dr. Ashley and Jason went over to the boxwork formation to examine the pair of bait sticks while everyone else climbed out.

Everyone was out of the cave by 6:15.  We packed up, closed the cave and were headed down the hill around 6:45.

Bill Gee