El Malpais National Monument (ELMA) is a dramatic volcanic area featuring vast expanses of pahoehoe and ʻaʻā lava, cinder cones, ice caves, and at least 290 lava tube caves.  Lava tube caves in this region have received little scientific attention with regards to their bat and arthropod populations. This work has provided resource managers with information vital to best conserving and managing sensitive cave resources.

My objectives of were to (i) catalog all taxa (insects, bats and other vertebrates) using caves including the identification of endemic and sensitive cave-adapted invertebrates, (ii) develop and test a systematic sampling protocol for inventorying arthropods, and (iii) provide recommendations to enhance current management practices.

During this two-year study (2007-2008), we conducted two site visits per cave at 11 caves on the monument and one cave on adjacent BLM lands. This work resulted in the identification of at least 60 morphospecies (groups delineated based upon similar morphological characters) including 54 arthropods (representing at least 14 orders), three bat species, and three other vertebrate species.

Several publications are currently being written based on the data collected from this project.  One paper, describing the results of the inventory work, is “in peer-review” with the journal Park Science.

I would like to specially thank Kayci Cook Collins and Dana Sullivan (El Malpais monument personnel) and Jeff Alford (Bandera Ice Caves) for their assistance and logistical support of this research. Ara Kooser, Peter Polsgrove, and Kyle Voyles assisted with fieldwork. This work was supported by a CP CESU cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and Northern Arizona University and the USGS.


Publications & Reports

Wynne, J.J. (In Review). Conservation and Management of Lava Tube Caves at El Malpais National Monument.  Park Science.

Wynne, J.J. 2011. Ecological Inventory of Lava Tube Caves, El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico (Final Report), Unpublished Report submitted to the National Park Service, El Malpais National Monument, Grants, NM.

 Wynne, J. J., and C. A. Drost. 2009. Southwest caves reveal new forms of life:  U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3024, 2 p.


Professional Presentations

9th Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau, Flagstaff, AZ (2007). Wynne, J.J. Regional Cave All Taxa Biological Inventory (Invited).


Popular Press

KNAU Earth Notes, Arizona Public Radio (NPR Affiliate), Flagstaff, Life in a Lava Tube (26 May 2010). Radio.