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Stony Hill Cave,

January 17, 2011

District: By request only

Parish: Portland

WGS84 L/L: By request only

JAD2001: By request only

JAD69: By request only

Altitude: 164m WGS84

Accuracy: +/- 5m horizontal; +/- 10m vertical


Type: Chamber

Accessibility: Walk-in

Depth: 12m

Length: 75m

Explorers: GSD, 1963

Survey: BRG McGrath

JU Ref: pg 348

JU Map: pg 349

Entrance size: ~5m W, ~3m H

Entrance aspect: 30 True North

Vegetation in general locale: Scrub/Suburban forest

Vegetation at entrance: Scrub

Geology: White limestone

Bedding: Poor

Jointing: Poor

Speleothems: Stals

Palaeo resources: None seen

Archaeo resources: None seen

Hydrology: Dry

Dark zone: 70%.

Climate: ~25 deg C, semi-humid.

Bats: >5000

Bat guano: Some

Guano mining: Occasional

Guano condition: Some fresh/fluff

Visitation: Occasional

Speleothem damage: None

Graffiti: ?

Trash: Some (bottle torch)

Ownership: Private

Protection: None

Vulnerability: High.

Stony Hill Cave
January 17, 2011
Team: RS Stewart
Notes: RS Stewart

Video: Stony Hill Cave (86 MB WMV)

Stony Hill Cave was visited on January 17, 2011, in assistance to the biodiversity division of NEPA and their investigations into the current status of bat-roosts in Jamaica. For this site, specifically, I was asked to see if there were any conditions that might indicate why the cave has the very rare bat, Phyllonycteris aphylla, while the few sites that were known to have it, St Clair, Oxford, Mount Plenty, and Riverhead, seem to no longer.

The cave consists of one, Y-shaped, medium-sized chamber, and is quite small when compared to roosts such as Windsor, or St Clair. Nevertheless, bat numbers are substantial due to a high density of individuals. Most of the roosting space is being used, and on parts of the walls, each square metre contains hundreds of bats. A rough guess would put the total over five thousand. Some sections have primarily white bats, either Erophylla, or Phyllonycteris.

The guano being deposited by the thousands of bats present has nourished vast numbers of the invasive roach, Periplaneta americana, which appears to have caused the loss of most of the troglobytic invertebrates that probably once lived in the cave. Indeed, no inverts other than roaches were seen. As to why the roaches are there in the first place, it is because of occasional guano mining by local people in the past. The roaches were transported inside in the feed bags used to carry out the dung.

Foraging outside of the cave is in suburban, open, sparse forest, along with scrub.

With regard to why the cave has Phyllonycteris aphylla: there is nothing unique about the site that makes it more suitable. In fact, the poor foraging tilts the equation to the negative side. To speculate: guano mining has not been intensive enough to eliminate the bats, and the relative paucity of caves in the parish of Portland has meant that cave dwelling bats have little choice in where they roost. It's either in Stony Hill Cave, or nothing. They have nowhere else to go. Conversely, perhaps the Phyllonycteris aphylla that were found in St Clair Cave in the past are now in one of the many other caves in the parish of St Catherine, such as Tydixon in Worthy Park. Compared to Portland, there are many options.

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