Inventory and assessment of subterranean ecosystems of the Sylamore Ranger District (within Baxter, Marion, Searcy, and Stone counties) Ozark National Forest, was performed 2000 to 2002. The Sylamore District, completely underlaid in karst topography (occurring in Mississippian to Ordovician carbonates), contains approximately 10% of the known caves in Arkansas. Thirty-five sites were inventoried, six of which were sampled for environmental quality. These were combined and analyzed with previous studies, creating a database of 1,238 total species occurrences, 230 species, and 61 total sites. Most common were cave crickets, pipistrelle bats, woodrats, mosquitoes, and spiders. Fourteen species obligate to coves or groundwater were found, including four new to science, although a collector’s curve showed that sampling effort to date has not reached maximum species richness. Richness was significantly great in caves developed in Ordovician carbonates, in caves with organic inputs (especially bat guano), and as cave passage length increased. Richness was not significant between watersheds (Buffalo versus White Rivers), nor by water resource, nor by degree of recreational use. Caves were ranked by passage length, total and obligate richness, and overall biological significance. Blanchard Springs Caverns ranked highest and is the most biologically rich cave in Arkansas with 96 total and nice obligate species. Recommendations include continuation of physical and biological inventories, increased protection of high-ranked sites, and increased public education/outreach. The US Forest Service has invest 0.6 million dollars in cave research, monitoring, and protection on the Sylamore District to date.
Graening, G. O.; Slay, Michael E.; and Tinkle, Karen K.
"Subterranean Biodiversity of Arkansas, Part 1: Bioinventory and Bioassessment of Caves in the Sylamore Ranger District, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 57
, Article 8.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol57/iss1/8