Bat Cave Hibernacula Survey Internships

Expected Dates
October 6, 2014 to April 5, 2015
El Malpais & El Morro National Monuments
Position ID
Bats are an incredibly important component of North America’s ecology, and play an essential role in the energy dynamics of lava tube cave environments. Here at El Malpais National Monument in northwest New Mexico, bats are the most important wildlife we manage, and conservation efforts are underway to understand their population dynamics, roost sites, and impacts on them from monument visitors. Furthermore, the looming specter of White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease spreading westward and decimating many bat populations, makes understanding the monument’s bats pre-disease essential for natural resource management decisions.
The two interns to be hired for the winter of 2014-2015 will perform the most comprehensive hibernacula survey in the monument’s history to determine what lava tube caves, among nearly 200, bats favor for hibernation, and in what number and from what species. This basic information is critical for managing these unique and important animals.

Field work will involve navigating rough backcountry roads in a pickup, hiking on lava flows in remote wilderness, locating cave sites with GPS units, and exploring cold, dark, amazing lava tube caves. While in the caves, interns will quietly survey the cave walls for hibernating bats, following an established protocol for hibernacula population counts so as not to disturb the bats. We hope to survey up to 100 caves this winter, which means we want to keep interns in the field as much as possible. That said, it can be cold here at 6000-7000’ and we’ll manage field work around inclement weather. However, at this low latitude field work is possible and we are excited to get this project underway.
  • The monument’s National Park Service headquarters and our natural resource management office are located within the city of Grants, New Mexico. The office is a friendly, comfortable setting with a staff of around 20. The field environment can be physically taxing and requires the ability to work and hike over some of the most rugged terrain on earth, and in extreme weather conditions while carrying 5-25 pounds of supplies and gear. Because of this, work hours and projects will be scheduled around inclement weather, splitting time between cave surveys and hiking in acceptable field conditions, and data management work in-office when conditions are not favorable for field work.

    El Malpais National Monument is in a fascinating geological setting, featuring a complex interconnection between recent volcanic activity and ancient sedimentary rocks. North of the monument, just a few miles past the city of Grants, Mt. Taylor reaches 13,300’. The Mt. Taylor uplands and the Zuni Mountains west of the monument support juniper, pinon, ponderosa, fir, and aspen stands. From the city of Grants to the south, the lava flows and cinder cones of El Malpais extend into high desert grasslands and shrublands home to pronghorn, mule deer and elk. The eastern boundary of the monument abuts the sandstone and slickrock cliffs of the Acoma Indian Reservation. The monument, along with the BLM’s surrounding National Conservation Area, protect more than 350,000 acres. Nearby attractions include various Native American nations and cultural sites like Chaco Canyon, El Morro National Monument, Shiprock, and the Acoma Pueblo. Albuquerque is an hour’s drive from Grants to the east, and the natural wonders of northern Arizona are a few hour’s drive the other way on I-40. It is a wonderful area.

  • Interns will be trained in GIS, caving, backcountry and wilderness ethics, and bat biology.
  • Winter recreation abounds 3 hours to the north at Wolf Creek and Durrango, Colorado. Ski resorts in the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos areas are between 1.5 and 3 hours away to the northeast.
  • Yes
Main Area of Focus
Wildlife Mgmt
Education, Training & Skills Expected
degree major or professional experience
Earth Sciences
some coursework or experience
Resource Management
some coursework or experience
competent without supervision
Data Entry
some experience
Field Research
some experience
competent with supervision
competent without supervision