Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 61 Number 2: 102-107 - August 1999

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Bats of Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona
Debbie C. Buecher and Ronnie M. Sidner


Kartchner Caverns, in southeastern Arizona, is a summer maternity roost for approximately 1000-2000 cave myotis (Myotis velifer). The pregnant females first arrive at the cave in late April, give birth in June, and have left by mid- September. These bats are an important element in the cave ecosystem because their excrement introduces nutrients, which support a complex invertebrate cave fauna. Bat population densities and emergence behavior was monitored between 1988-1991. Other bat species seen using the entrance areas of the cave include Corynorhinus townsendi and Choeronycteris mexicana.

Because bats are easily disturbed by human intrusion into the roost, the baseline study was accomplished using low-disturbance techniques in an effort to provide the greatest amount of data with the least disturbance to the bat colony. These techniques included limited visual observations in the roost and netting bats only on the surface at a nearby water tank. During the baseline study, an episode of predation by a carnivore (Bassariscus astutus) caused the bats to abandon the site for a short time. Carbon-14 dating of guano from the Throne and Rotunda Rooms suggests that Myotis velifer used the Back Section of Kartchner Caverns 50-45 years Ka.

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