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The Effect of Chemical Treatments on Lampenflora and a Collembola Indicator Species at a Popular Tour Cave in California, USA

Abstract

Growth of invasive, opportunistic plants (i.e. lampenflora) in popular tour caves is a significant concern for land managers worldwide. Numerous chemicals at various concentrations have been utilized to remove phototrophic lampenflora colonizing artificially lit surfaces within these caves; however formulations, effectiveness, and impacts appear anecdotal and temporally limited. At Crystal Cave, Sequoia National Park, California, we study lampenflora and cave springtail (Tomocerus celsus) response to a single 0.05 ml/cm2 dose of 1.0% sodium hypochlorite, 0.5% sodium hypochlorite, and 15.0% hydrogen peroxide compared to no treatment over the course of one year. Additionally, we explore potential food web impacts resulting from invasive lampenflora in naturally oligotrophic caves by utilizing stable isotope analysis of T. celsus found on and off lampenflora. Time-effect decay models indicate 1.0 and 0.5% sodium hypochlorite effectively eliminate lampenflora in 11 and 21 days, respectively, while lampenflora decay projections exceed 600 days with 15.0% hydrogen peroxide treatment. Repeat surveys of T. celsus indicate a negative response to 1.0% sodium hypochlorite (P = 0.02), and the probability of observing T. celsus was inversely related to the effectiveness of each treatment. Further, T. celsus had similar diets regardless of their lampenflora association (P = 0.92). We conclude that treatments of sodium hypochlorite at or below 0.5% achieve management goals with limited impacts to the presence or diet of a common cave-adapted indicator species.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank J. Watkins, and A. Esperanza of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and K. Wightman and the entire Crystal Cave support staff of the Sequoia Parks Conservancy for supporting the project in many ways. This project was funded by the U.S. National Park Service.

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Correspondence to Erik Meyer.

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Meyer, E., Seale, L.D., Permar, B. et al. The Effect of Chemical Treatments on Lampenflora and a Collembola Indicator Species at a Popular Tour Cave in California, USA. Environmental Management 59, 1034–1042 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-017-0842-3

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Keywords

  • Lampenflora
  • Tour cave
  • Indicator species
  • Springtail
  • Cave restoration