We aim to intensively sample cave deep zone habitats of three caves to search for cave-adapted arthropods. Within each deep zone of each cave, we first conducted a direct intuitive search by inspecting the cave floor for 10 minutes per m2.  Floors and or walls were intensively searched, rocks were overturned and examined, and areas containing flood detritus and/ or guano were probed and searched.  Once completed, baits were placed directly on the ground or within cracks and fissures on cave walls, ceilings and floors.  We used three bait types: (1) sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), (2) chicken livers, and (3) small diameter branches from juniper trees (Juniperus sp.).  Baits were checked every 24 hours. 

High resolution light and SEM imagery of Ptomaphagus Parashant. A new species discovered during this work. A) reflected light image of head with unpigmented remnant eye spot; B) head with no eye remnants resolved with SEM; C) dorsal view with elytra open showing no observable flight wings; and, D) antennae.  Differences in “illumination” of the apical flagellomeres in D was likely due to differential sputter coating during the specimen preparation phase prior to capturing SEM imagery; all segments are uniformly pale-brown in color in reflected light.  From Peck and Wynne (2013).

To date, one of three caves have been sampled.  Through these efforts, we’ve discovered two new species of cave adapted arthropods -- Ptomaphagus parashant, the most troglomorphic cholevine beetle known from Western North America (Peck and Wynne 2013) and a Anopsobiid centipede, representing the first record of a cave-adapted centipede in Arizona (Shear and Wynne, unpublished data).

The discovery paper for Ptomaphagus Parashant is in press with The Coleopterists Bulletin.  We hope to write the paper on the cave-adapted centipede in 2013.  Additionally, we have two more caves to study.  These caves are located in a remote and difficult to access canyon.  We will conduct this work in January 2013.  

Zach Fitzner, Greg Flores, Nicholas Glover, Eathan McIntyre, and Bill Mason assisted with fieldwork.  Parashant personnel Jennifer Fox, Ray Klein, Rosie Pepito, Pam McAlpin and Eathan McIntyre provided vital logistical support making this project possible.  Jon Jasper, Kyle Voyles, and the San Bernardino County Cave Search and Rescue remained on standby during field operations.  Cat Chapman, Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity, NAU captured high resolution images of arthropods. Aubrey Funke, Imaging and Histology Core Facility, NAU, captured SEM images of P. parashant.  This project is funded through a CP-CESU cooperative agreement between Northern Arizona University and the National Park Service.

This cave-adapted Anopsobiid centipede represents the first record of a cave-adapted centipede for the state of Arizona.

Publications & Reports

Peck, S. B. and J. J. Wynne (Accepted). Ptomaphagus parashant new species (Coleoptera: Leiodidae: Cholevinae: Ptomaphagini): the most troglomorphic cholevine beetle known from Western North America. The Coleopterists Bulletin.