36th Annual North American Symposium on Bat Research


Pre-Meeting Field Trip

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


36th NASBR field trip: Insectivorous plant and bald cypress swamp tour

Cost: $125 per person

Date:  October 18, 2006

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Trip Leader: Andy Wood, NC Audubon, Wilmington, NC


The field trip will take place in the Holly Shelter Game Land owned by the state of North Carolina.  This area exhibits excellent examples of low pocosin, longleaf pine communities, and bald cypress swamps.  All areas are home to unique habitats and flora and fauna of the southeastern coastal plain of the United States. 


The trip will begin at 8:00 a.m. when the group leaves the Hilton Riverside in Wilmington by van for the drive to Holly Shelter (~45minutes).  Participants will return before the opening social for the 36th NASBR.


In the morning the group will explore longleaf pine and pocosin communities where a wide variety of insectivorous plants abound, including the rare Venus Flytrap.  After a picnic lunch participants will spend the afternoon kayaking the calm waters of Shelter Creek, a tributary of the NE Cape Fear River.  This area is a treat to kayak as the water is slow-moving, which allows you to meander and take in the scenery.  You will enjoy the contrast of the tea-colored water and autumn leaf color and the peacefulness of drifting by the majestic bald cypress dripping with Spanish moss. 


The trip leader is Andy Wood, Education Specialist for NC Audubon.  Andy has lived in the Holly Shelter area for many years and is an experienced guide and well-known naturalist in the area.  Trip costs cover all transportation, food, beverages and kayak rental.  You will need to wear field clothes and bring layers; October days are warm, but mornings and evenings can be chilly.  Keep in mind that your shoes and clothing may get wet while kayaking.


Things to bring: sunscreen, insect spray, hat, sunglasses, rainwear, binoculars and a camera. 


Don’t miss this unique opportunity to explore these rare and unique areas with one of the most knowledgeable guides in the area. 


Longleaf pine savannas and the Venus Flytrap*

Southern Coastal Plain pine savannas are remarkable for their high diversity of plants and are the sole home of many rare species.  Savannas occupy a zone between drier longleaf pine woodlands and wetter pocosins (peaty bogs densely filled with evergreen vegetation).  These forests once covered large areas of the southeastern coastal plain.  The community evolved in a natural system where lightening-caused fires burned much of the region every two to five years. 


Many view the insectivorous plants that abound in the savannas as their most intriguing feature.  The savannas are showplaces from early spring to late fall when native orchids and other colorful and unusual plants grow and bloom.  Sundews, pitcher plants, bladderworts and butterworts are plentiful in these forests.  They are also home to a rare insectivorous species, the Venus Flytrap, which only grows naturally within about a 75 mile radius of Wilmington, NC.   All of the insectivorous plants grow in infertile soil and ingeniously meet their needs for nitrogen and other plant nutrients by trapping insects and other small animals.  


The Venus Flytrap has a unique prey capture mechanism.  Most of the other carnivorous plants in the savannas capture prey by means of leaves modified as pit traps and sticky-haired surfaces.  The leaves of the Venus Flytrap are modified as a spring trap device. Each leaf has a clam-shaped trap at the end of a broad stalk. The trap is edged with a conspicuous row of long stiff spines and the upper surface is covered with nectar glands that attract visitors.  The surface of the each half of the trap is covered with three bristles that act as triggers.  As an animal brushes against the bristles the trap is stimulated to close, capturing the prey.


*Text is excerpted from “Venus Flytrap”, an educational flyer produced by the Plant Conservation Program, N. C. Department of Agriculture, Raleigh, NC.


Cypress-gum swamp forests and bats of the southeastern United States

Floodplain forests of the southeastern states are becoming more important as refuges for bats and other wildlife than ever before due to development pressures in the region.  The large stands of contiguous bottomland forest protected by governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations contain much of the best remaining habitat for bats within the southeastern states (e.g., Frances Beidler Forest, an Audubon Sanctuary in SC, the Black River Preserve protected by the Nature Conservancy in NC and the lower Roanoke River floodplain protected by a partnership of state, federal and private landowners in NC). 


Within these forests is a community type known as the cypress-gum swamp forest.  This community is composed primarily of tree species that are adapted to survive long periods of flooding-the bald cypress and the tupelo or swamp gum.  These species have large buttressed bases that help to stabilize them during wind storms and hurricanes.  The older trees develop extensive cavities that are used as roost sites by Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) and the southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius).   Both of these species are species of concern in the United States. 
























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36th NASBR