Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science in Biology


As part of a long term ecological monitoring effort at Mammoth Cave National Park, a blind cave beetle, Neaphaenops tellkampfi, was collected and data on populations trends gathered from September 2005 through December 2006 in Great Onyx Cave. The sex and age of each individual in each of 15 sites were determined and density trends of the entire population was measured. The species was chosen due to its role as an indicator species, since potential anthropogenic threats to the environment can be detected via population response. This was the initial implementation of a new monitoring method and a test of its efficacy was conducted by comparing observed trends to those of past studies. Of interest were changes in density, sex ratio, habitat preferences between sexes, and sclerotization class through five seasons. Population trends were congruent with the results of previous studies in this cave. There was a shift from the previously reported constant 1:1 sex ratio to one of female dominance in spring 2006. It was also discovered that males and females of both sclerotization classes utilize habitats among seasons similarly and display greatest trap abundance near large patches of sandy substrate. It was concluded that the ethod is an efficient evaluation tool though recommendations are made for its refinement as it is extended to additional sites. The first survey of the caves of Ghana was conducted in January of 2006. All insects observed were collected and identified in the laboratory to as specific a level as possible. The fauna appears to be more troglophilic rather than troglobytic and is likely that many of the species found inside the caves are likely to occur outside this habitat too.


Medical Sciences