As its name suggests, Lava Beds National Monument is known for its geologic formations built by volcanic eruptions especially its vast networks of caves. Caves draw in a huge number of visitors that seek to explore their twists and turns. So far, I’ve been to three caves at Lava Beds and can attest to the adventures you can find by exploring them!
Although most visitors are interested in the geology of the caves, they are often anxious about the bats that reside in them. A lot of this anxiety about bats can be traced to common misconceptions that give the creatures a bad reputation. The image of the blood-sucking bat is all over popular media like movies and TV shows. So this week, I’ve been working on an interpretative program for park visitors that will clarify some of these misconceptions. By developing this program, I’ve dispelled my own preconceptions about bats and discovered that bats are misunderstood yet remarkable creatures! Echolocation is only one of their many superpowers. Some bats are also immune to scorpion stings.
As part of my program, I will demonstrate a new software that monitors bat echolocations in real time. Visitors will be able to “see” bats through their calls and experience them in a non-harmful or overwhelming way. The first time I tried out the software we found a hairy winged myotis, which is only about 3 inches in length and 10 grams in weight. Most of the bats I’ve seen back home are larger fruit bats distinguishable by their audible calls. So I was so amazed that through this form of acoustic monitoring, we’re able to identify bats we can’t see or hear! Although I have to wear a 4-foot-tall microphone while monitoring, I am excited to look foolish in the name of science.
My name is Noelani Parker and I am recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, with a B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection. Though my journey deviates slightly from the other interns in that I won’t be starting until the end of June, I still wanted to take the time to introduce myself. This summer I will be working closely with the ecologist at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California as a Biological Technician in order to help map the distribution and infection rate of an overseas pathogen (Cronartium ribicola). As a result, most of my work will lead me to the backcountry terrain of Lassen, where both elevation and spirits will be high.
Growing up in a small coastal town in California gave me an early appreciation for nature, and a deep-rooted need to protect it. I was lucky enough to be able to engage myself in some sort of outdoor activity daily, and had an innate love for hiking and camping, making me ecstatic to have been accepted into a MIS program that allows me to do just that!
As the days dwindle down I find myself anxiously excited to see what this summer holds for me. I am mentally prepared to trek new mountains, expand my botanical knowledge, and work hard, but find myself nervous to live in a small town with a population bobbing around 100. For now, I have set my goals and intentions, and all I can do is let the excitement build. I can’t wait to share more of my adventure with everyone once it begins!
My first two weeks have consisted mostly of office work. I have done trainings on how to navigate through computer servers and such, but for the most part I’ve been reading through a lot of software, hardware and programming instruction manuals. I’ve also had to read through a lot of government documentation which has allowed me to gain a better understanding on how to put together my own protocol for monitoring vocal anuran/amphibian communities in the South Florida and Caribbean parks. A lot of my research has been conducted by reading through the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documentation that the Southeast Coast Inventory and Monitoring Network has published.
Over these past two weeks I’ve really discovered the importance of being able to be self-driven, as well as, being able to do a lot of self-teaching, since my supervisor has been gone since last Friday on a week long trip conducting field work out on the Virgin Islands. Although I haven’t gotten the opportunity to do any field work as of yet and my work hasn’t been the most exciting, I certainly feel as though I’ve gained a lot of valuable knowledge in the past two weeks. It also helps that I do have a lot of experience doing research independently from my past internship in Alaska, although it differs in that the majority of my research last year was conducted while I was out on the field on backpacking trips, day-long hiking trips, or overnight canoeing trips.
However since I do live in Everglades National Park, on my own time, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of exploring of the park’s natural beauty. On my bike rides, hikes and canoeing trips, during the past two weekends I’ve gotten to see some amazing wildlife and experience some amazingly scenic views!