Ecological Inventory of Lava Tube Caves, El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico FINAL REPORT


Jut Wynne


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date

January 2011


El Malpais National Monument is a unique, caverniferous park unit in western New Mexico. This monument is riddled with lava tube caves which have received little scientific attention in regards to their bat and arthropod populations. During this twoyear study, natural resource inventories were conducted at 11 caves. This work resulted in revisiting a known freetailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) maternity roost and a Townsend’s bigeared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) hibernacula. The latter was first documented by the author in 2005. Additionally, at least 53 morphospecies and at least four new species representing at least 10 orders of arthropods were identified including one caveadapted spider, two springtails, and possibly one new Carabid beetle. We also confirmed the persistence of a caveadapted Dipluran within the deep zone of one of the caves. Cave research in El Malpais is very much in its infancy. With the likely westward advance of Whitenose Syndrome (a fungal pathogen killing bats in the eastern U.S.), inventory and monitoring of the known bat hibernacula in addition to searching for additional hibernacula is of critical importance to the longterm management of bats on the monument. Additionally, conducting research to define the basic lifehistory requirements of both caveadapted and newly described cavedwelling species will enable land managers to make the best decisions concerning their management and protection.


New Mexico, Caves, Lava Tube

Document Type



Park Science, Vol. 30 (2011-01-01).