WSI: Pharris Research Symposium

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Wednesday, April 20th
9:00 AM

A Biological Survey of Sloan's Crossing Pond, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Christiane M. Soldo Ms., Murray State University

Barkley Room, Curris Center

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Sloan’s Crossing Pond (SCP) is a popular visitor attraction in Mammoth Cave National Park (MCNP) that was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1939. In recent years, the pond has begun to shallow and fill with sediment. The National Park Service (NPS) is tasked with preserving landscapes in their pre-Colombian state. However, NPS is obligated to preserve all natural artifacts that are greater than 50 years old, such as Sloan’s Pond that was constructed by the CCC. Furthermore, the park service is required to provide recreation and entertainment to visitors. These conflicting management goals make it difficult for park officials to decide what action to take in regards to the pond.

In order to help park managers with their decision, we began a biological survey of SCP and two nearby ponds. Our goal was to determine whether SCP provided a unique habitat not seen anywhere else in MCNP, or if there was a high level of functional redundancy between SCP and other ponds found within the park.

We surveyed Sloan’s Crossing Pond, Joppa and Quarry ponds. We were limited by permit requirements and had to rely on observational sampling techniques, such as camera trapping and audio recording. We did not find any indication that Sloan’s Crossing Pond provided a unique habitat in the park. We will continue our survey throughout the spring and summer and extend it to more ponds throughout MCNP. We hope to use this preliminary data to guide our future research methods.

Key Words: survey, pond, camera trap, Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park, audio recording, observation, forest inventory, management, preliminary data

Characteristics of roost tree use by the tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) post- white-nose syndrome in the Four Rivers watershed

Katherine Schaefer, Murray State University

Barkley Room, Curris Center

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

The tri-colored bat is undergoing severe declines across its range due to white nose syndrome, a fungal disease causing massive bat mortality in eastern North America. Our objective was to determine distinguishing characteristics of roost trees used by tri-colored bats so their roost needs can be considered in management plans. We mist-netted for tri-colored bats at Land Between the Lakes and Clarks River in western Kentucky. We attached a radio transmitter to adult bats. We tracked six bats to their day roosts for 1-12 days. Habitat data were collected at 19 roost trees and at randomly selected trees in the area for comparison. Our initial data showed that tri-colored bats use roost trees within a relatively small area. The greatest distance moved between successive roosts was 207.8 m, with an average distance between roosts of 68.9 m. Bats remained within 2.5 km of their original capture site. All roosting bats were located in the foliage of live trees. Tri-colored bats may not select roost trees at random. Bats were observed roosting in 10 different species of tree, with the most commonly selected species being Carya tomentosa (Lam.) Nutt. and Liquidambar styraciflua L. (37% and 16% of roost trees, respectively). In contrast with the roost trees selected, the most abundant species among the randomly selected trees were Quercus alba L. and Acer saccharum Marshall. Management needs of tri-colored bats likely differ from those of other declining bat species which have preference for trees in mid-decay stages.

Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Quantify Isotopic Niche Overlap between Silver Carp and Gizzard Shad

Dalton D. Lebeda, Murray State University

Barkley Room, Curris Center

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Kentucky Lake is the largest impoundment east of the Mississippi River and is located on the Tennessee River in western Kentucky. The reservoir has a diverse fishery consisting of many fish species that prey upon native planktivorous Gizzard Shad Dorosoma cepedianum and Threadfin Shad D. petenense. Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix are an invasive planktivorous fish species that invaded Kentucky Lake in 2004 and data suggests successful establishment and a reproducing population. Previous studies on the Illinois River have suggested that Silver Carp are competing for prey resources with native fish species including Gizzard Shad. Therefore, diet overlap and competition between Silver Carp and Gizzard Shad in Kentucky Lake is a major concern to biologists and fishermen. For our study, we used δ15N and δ13C isotopic signatures to perform niche analysis and to quantify isotopic niche overlap. Fish were sampled using: cast nets, gill nets, and boat electrofishing. We found non-significant isotopic niche overlap between Silver Carp and Gizzard Shad in Kentucky Lake. In conclusion, Silver Carp and Gizzard Shad appear to have a low potential for competition. However, if Silver Carp populations increase, and resources become depleted, then the potential for competition may increase and result in ecosystem effects.