Quantifying Wildlife Use of Cave Entrances Using Remote Camera Traps


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Publication Date

January 2015


Digital infrared remote camera traps were placed at the entrance of twelve caves in Great Basin National Park, Nevada during the summer of 2013 to assess the wildlife use of cave entrances. The use of caves by surface wildlife is a major nutrient source for cave organisms that spend their entire lives underground. Cave entrances varied in size (0.9 to50 m2 ), cave length (10 to 1000 m), surface habitat (riparian versus pinyon/juniper), and management approach (gated versus no gate). Data from eight cave entrances are presented, with four other entrances removed from the analysis due to equipment failure. The cameras were deployed for a total of 372 trap days, with an average of 46.5 days per cave (range 28 to 62). The cameras captured 632 trap events, with separate events defined as more than an hour apart for the same species. Of the seventeen taxa documented, the most abundant species photographed were mice, chipmunks, humans, woodrats, and squirrels. Other species observed in cave entrances were cottontail rabbits, bats, skunks, foxes, insects, birds, and domestic dogs. Wildlife entered and exited caves most frequently between 1800 and 0600. Very little information has been previously documented about fauna using cave entrances, and this non-invasive, repeatable technique can help managers learn more about the dominant species using the entrance and twilight areas of the caves they manage, as well as peak use times.




Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, Vol. 77, no. 3 (2015).