Our objectives are to: (i) survey all known caves within or immediately adjacent to the monument boundary likely to contain hibernating bats, and identify and census bats occurring within each cave; (ii) develop models to identify habitat correlates of bat hibernacula; and; (iii) collect soil samples to ultimately characterize the soil microbial communities to have information necessary for early detection of the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome.

Clusters of hibernating Townsend’s big-eared bats from Cave PARA-1401. 

In 2011, we surveyed 11 caves on the monument and on adjacent lands for hibernating bats.  Of these, we discovered two hibernacula (PARA-1401 and PARA-0901) and three torpor caves.  In the torpor caves, bats were observed within the cave’s entrances and twilight zones.  These animals were easily aroused by our presence. 

Hibernacula caves were subsequently surveyed in 2012 and 2013.  Censuses across years ranged from four to 17 bats for PARA-1401 and 44 to 51 bats for PARA-0901. PARA-1401 contained Townsend’s big eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii) in most years; in 2013 we identified one Myotis sp.  In PARA-0901, Townsend’s bats were most common and a few Myotis bats were detected each year.

Because one of our caves (PARA-1401) contained archaeological materials, we were not able to deploy data loggers (instruments to collect hourly temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure), nor were we able to collect soil samples to test for the presence of Geomyces destructans (the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats, and is devastating bat populations in eastern North America). 

For habitat modeling and monitoring, we are comparing one hibernacula to one non-hibernacula cave.  We deployed approximately 50 temperature, relative humidity and barometric pressure data loggers along the ceilings, walls and floors of each cave.  Hourly data is currently being collected.  We will collect these data for a total of two years.  These data will be analyzed to characterize and compare meteorological conditions between a hibernacula cave and a non-hibernacula cave.

We collected soil samples within PARA-0901 only.  Soil samples were analyzed by Drs. Jeff Foster and Kevin Drees with the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, NAU.  While Geomyces species were found in most of the soil samples analyzed, Geomyces destructans was not detected.  We are hopeful this information will provide us with a baseline for monitoring soil microbial communities, as white nose syndrome advances westward.

Explorers Club flag expedition photo from fieldwork conducted in February 2012.  From left to right: Eathan McIntyre, Jut, Bill Mason  and Zach Fitzner with Explorers Club flag #139.

Rich Breisch, Zach Fitzner, Greg Flores, Nicholas Glover, Todd Heckman, Chris Holcomb, Eathan McIntyre, Bill Mason, Pete Kelsey, Mike Kotanian, Peter Ruplinger, Shawn Thomas, Tim Titus and Abby Tobin assisted with fieldwork.  Parashant personnel Jennifer Fox, Ray Klein, Rosie Pepito, Pam McAlpin and Eathan McIntyre provided vital logistical support making this project possible.  Drs. Jeff Foster and Kevin Drees analyzed soil samples for the presence of Geomyces destructans.  Jon Jasper, Kyle Voyles, and the San Bernardino County Cave Search and Rescue remained on standby during field operations.  This project is funded through a CP-CESU cooperative agreement between Northern Arizona University and the National Park Service.

Publications & Reports

Wynne, J. J. 2013. Bat Hibernacula and Cricket Roost Census, Site Visit Report, 02 February 2013.  Unpublished report on file with Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Saint George, Utah, 2 pps.

Wynne, J. J., E. McIntyre, Z. Fitzner, and W. Mason. 2012. Bat Hibernacula Census and 3D Cave Mapping Data Collection, Northwestern Arizona (Mohave County), Explorers Club Flag Report, Flag #139, Submitted: 01 June 2012, On file at The Explorers Club, New York, NY, 17 pps.

Co-author with 19 others. 2012.  White-Nose Syndrome Decontamination Protocol (Version 03.15.2012).  National Protocol for White-Nose Syndrome Decontamination, prepared by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wynne, J. J. and K. D. Voyles. 2011. Bat Hibernacula and Torpor Caves of Parashant National Monument and Adjacent BLM Lands.  Unpublished report submitted to Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, National Park Service.

Wynne, J. J., S. Thomas, A. Tobin, and K. D. Voyles. 2011. Bat Hibernacula and Torpor Caves of Northwestern Arizona (Mojave County), Explorers Club Flag Report (Flag # 139), Submitted: 25 February 2011, Unpublished report submitted to The Explorers Club, New York, NY.

Popular Press

Inside Earth 15 (1): 17, Cave Ecological Inventory on Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Eathan McIntyre (Spring 2012).  National Park Service Quarterly Publication.

Expedition News, Vol. 19, No. 3, Trip Report: Bat Hibernacula Monitoring and Habitat Characterization Project, Jeff Blumenfeld (March 2012). Web Media.