Guidelines for Research on Property Owned or Managed by the National Speleological Society
The following guidelines apply to research on any property, including surface and caves, owned, leased, or managed by the National Speleological Society (Society property). These guidelines have been established with three goals in mind: conservation, safety, and accountability. They are not intended to be a hinderance, but rather to encourage responsible research and to ensure that the results are made available to other members of the Society.
1. A brief summary of proposed research projects on Society property should be submitted to the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) Chairman prior to initiation of the project. The planned schedule, field procedure, and collecting (if any) should be explicitly described.
2. Approval must be obtained from the RAC before research can proceed, if any of the following are anticipated. The proposal should also be accompanied by a statement of approval from the management committee responsible for the property.
a. Collecting of any kind. See additional guidelines in #7 below.
b. Disruption of the natural state of the property.
c. Water tracing with dissolved or suspended materials.
d. Entry to restricted areas or during restricted times. A statement of approval to do so from the local management committee must accompany the proposal. The proposal must state explicitly how the impact of the research on the site will be minimized.
e. Censuses of animal populations where threatened or endangered species are present.
3. A yearly summary of research projects should be submitted to the RAC for publication in the Members Manual. Publication of final research results in the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies is encouraged.
4. Researchers on Society property must adhere to the policies of the Society and of the local management committee as well as state and federal law.
5. No research will be permitted that endangers visitors, biota, or environmental quality.
6. Researchers having permission to enter restricted areas, or during restricted times, may be accompained only by persons aiding the research.
7. Guidelines for sampling:
a. Approval for collecting will be granted only to qualified persons with demonstrable credentials (including prior publication of related research), or by persons under the direct supervision of such an authority.
b. Any required state and federal collecting permits must be obtained by the researcher.
c. Sampling should cause as little degradation of the natural aspect of the cave or property as reasonably possible.
d. No more than 5% of any population (e.g. biota) or material (e.g. sediment) should be removed. Exceptions include materials that are not indigenous to the site and which are in danger of being damaged if left in place, or which must be entirely removed to be studied (e.g. bones or artifacts).
e. Sampling of water does not require RAC approval except where the residence time (pool or stream volume divided by the rate of inflow) is more than one year.
f. No endangered species may be collected ,except under extraordinary circumstances (e.g. where the species habitat is threatened). These curcumstances must be described in the research proposal submitted to the RAC.
g. No in-situ speleothems or macroscopic fossils in bedrock may be collected except under extraordinary circumstances which must be described in the research proposal. Collecting permits ordinarily apply only to loose fragments.
h. Bedrock sampling should consist of loose fragments wherever possible.
i. No collecting will be permitted simply for display purposes.
j. Samples must be located explicitly, both horizontally and vertically, with the aid of surveys or maps to ensure that collecting is systematic and not haphazard.
k. After completion of the project, any remaining samples are to be donated to the NSS Museum along with a list identifying each and giving its explicit location. When feasible, future researchers should use these collections rather than collect new samples.