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Klamath Network (KLMN)

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Cave Entrance Communities & Cave Environments

Townsend big-eared bat colony at Lavabeds NM
Townsend big-eared bat colony at Lavabeds NM

Inventory Reports
(bats - part of KLMN mammal inventory efforts)

Monitoring Reports

Long-term Monitoring Protocol & Sampling Procedures

For more information contact Alice Chung-MacCoubrey

Importance & Issues

The distinctive biodiversity and often spectacular geologic formations in caves depend on unique and specific environmental conditions. Despite their apparent stability, cave environments often show particular sensitivity to ongoing changes in both atmospheric and terrestrial realms (e.g., climate and atmospheric composition change). These changes affect temperatures, microclimates, carbon dioxide concentrations, and the amount and type of organic input into caves. The geological processes in caves can be affected by all these changes, as well as by local effects of visitor use. Caves are truly among the most sensitive natural resources to anthropogenic impacts.

These communities have unique biota, including a number of global endemics. For example, macroinvertebrate troglobites are known only from caves. There are about seven to eight macroinvertebrate species and one subspecies known only from the main cave at Oregon Caves. Lava Beds has at least three troglobitic species only known from its lava tube caves, including a troglobitic isopod (Trichoniscidae), pseudoscorpion, and dipluran.

At Lava Beds, there are also ferns and both vascular and non-vascular plants that are mostly or entirely restricted to the uniquely cool microclimates at cave entrances. These cave entrance communities can be highly vulnerable to human impacts, such as locally introduced organic matter and alterations of cave structure and microclimates. Even such seemingly minor stresses as lint from visitors' clothing can affect microbial populations, which are the main basis of the macroinvertebrate food chain.

Parks Monitored

  • Lava Beds National Monument (LABE)
  • Oregon Caves National Monument (ORCA)

Preliminary Monitoring Objectives

  1. Monitor the status and trends of human impacts
  2. Monitor the status and trends of focal species and communities
  3. Monitor the status and trends of groundwater/ice resources
  4. Monitor the status and trends of cave climate
  5. Analyze trends in each parameter across monitored caves and use this data to make inferences across all caves

Potential Measures

  • Cave Meteorology
  • Ice and Water Levels
  • Human Visitation
  • Fern, Moss, and Lichen Coverage
  • Bat Populations
  • Scat Deposition
  • Cave Invertebrates

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Last Updated: March 17, 2017 Contact Webmaster