There are many interesting biological research projects that can be done on the OMBS. The following list contains a few examples of projects, any of which could lead to a publication in a scientific journal. There are many more.
Compare the ecology of two species of walking stick insects, diversity of ants, feeding habits of trapdoor spiders, nesting biology of Louisiana Waterthrush, population ecology of buckeyes, population density of the trapdoor spider Ummidia, winter ecology of flying squirrels, species diversity of moths, winter bird community structure, chipmunk ecology, earthworm diversity, phosphorescent invertebrates, mushroom diversity and abundance, lichen diversity, population ecology of the snake genus Virginia, tree species used for food by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, fish diversity in the creeks, population structure of freshwater mussels, where do Eurycea overwinter, habitat of Hemidactylium, community structure of daddy longlegs, biotic community using hollow trees, population structure of three species of the spider genus Micrathena, gastropods of the Ouachitas, population biology of scorpions, biology of Cerulean Warblers, habitat characteristics of mountain populations of salamanders, diversity of centipedes, grasshopper diversity, dirversity of beetles, ecology of stoneflies, seasonal abundance of bats, comparative rabbit ecology, demography of fence lizards, home range of timber rattlesnakes, rodent diversity, seasonal abundance of fireflies, habitat characteristics and diversity of deer mice (Peromyscus), breeding bird diversity, demography of paper wasps in the forest, habitat of the shrew, Cryptotis parva, diversity of millipedes, population dynamics of moles, diversity of butterflies, the community of hole-nesters, habitat of the Golden Mouse, community ecology of snakes of the genus Storeria, pseudoscorpions of the Ouachitas, diversity of the Homoptera, diversity of terrestrial snails, distribution of American Basswood, demography of Ambystoma maculatum, ecology of tarantulas, abundance of Eastern Screech-Owls, community composition of oak trees (Quercus), diversity of jumping spiders(Salticidae), diversity of slime molds, population dynamics of flying squirrels, diversity of tardigrades, competition among woodpeckers, and many more.
If you are interested in bringing a class or other group, check our calendar for overnight availability; we have a total of 19 beds available, not counting camping or tents.
By Dr. A. Bradley McPherson>
In the survey of the flora of the Ouachita Mountain Biology Station MacRoberts et. al, (2005) identified 13 species of ferns; a very small sample considering there are over 10,000 named species in the world. Ferns as a group are widely distributed across the planet though fewer in number in the deserts and colder extremes. The tropics contain the greatest diversity of ferns with growth forms including not only the typical fern morphology but also single leaved entire edged ferns, highly branched ferns, epiphytic, climbing, vine-like, and tree ferns. The branching of the fronds may be simple and entire, to bipinnate-pinnatifid, thereby exhibiting a wide diversity in frond morphology.
On a hike along West Cabin Trail one can encounter several species so let's take a hike. As you walk from Nuthatch to the shop and are under the powerline look to your left and there you will see the Brachen Fern, Pteridium aquilinum. The Brachen Fern is quite tolerant of warmer drier habitats and does well in the open sunlight. It may be found along roadways, on open slopes, in open fields, as well as in the forest where there is considerable sunlight. The Brachen Fern is rarely used as an ornimental because of its wide spreading habit and its tendency to spread by wide creaping rhizomes. It is said that a tea made of the Brachen Fern is good for worms. I don't know if this means it is good for worms or for getting rid of worms.
The discussion above and the photographs are from a trail guide for the Fern Trail at the OMBS written by Dr. Brad McPherson. Brachen Fern is one of ten species, including the uncommon Blunt-lobed Woodsia, that have been documented at the OMBS by Dr. McPherson. How many more species of ferns will be discovered as we explore remote creeks and springs?
For many years, while doing routine biological surveys at the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station (OMBS), I was studying one species of trapdoor spider, Myrmekiaphila comstocki (Cyrtaucheniidae). This species is the only one, of the 10-12 species in the genus, that is distributed west of the Mississippi River. These spiders are tarantula relatives and range in size up to about an inch in length. This species constructs burrows with a trapdoor at the entrance, is active in all seasons, and is common at the OMBS.
Another genus, Ummidia (Ctenizidae) has been documented at the OMBS but it appears to be uncommon. The common tarantula of the area, Aphonopelma (Theraphosidae) has also been documented but is very rare at the OMBS. However, the Purseweb spider, Sphodros rufipes, is expected in this area and in this habitat but it has never been found, in spite of the conspicuous nature of their tube-shaped webs on tree trunks. Much biodiversity is yet to be discovered.
Over several years I studied many aspects of the natural history of our common trapdoor spider, Myrmekiaphila comstocki. Females construct the characteristic burrows in which they live for their entire lives; however, the rarely encountered males live elsewhere and are only found when they are wandering on the forest floor. There is much information about the biology of this species that we do not know; therefore, there is a wide variety of basic research projects waiting to be solved by interested biologists (students or faculty). What do they eat and what eats them? Do the females move to a new burrow (and why)? What does the female do with excavated soil? When are eggs laid? Are the eggs in a cocoon? When do the young emerge from the burrow? Do the young balloon? Where do the males reside? When do they wander? Do the males prefer the same habitat (or microhabitat) as do the females?
Many interesting questions of this sort could be asked (and need answers) about most of the fauna of the OMBS. Research possibilities are everywhere. Choose your animal or plant, determine a question (or more) that interests you, and discover the answer.-- Dr. Hardy
The Wallace Lake Biological Station (WLBS) is now a part of the OMBS and is located on the edge of Wallace Lake in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. The WLBS covers about 600 acres consisting of upland pine/oak forest and lowland cypress/button bush swamp on the south edge of Wallace Lake, a U.S. Corps of Engineers flood control structure. This facility, located just a few miles south of Shreveport, has about a mile of trails and about a half-mile of shoreline, but no other development. Directions to the WLBS can be found here.
Future plans include an education/visitor center, parking area, and a boat dock on the lake. The acreage (even though surrounded by residential property, farmland, and petroleum production wells) contains White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkeys, and many of the amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals expected in the diverse habitat. No biological surveys have been done so nothing has been documented regarding vascular plants or any invertebrate animals. The physical position of the WLBS can be of biological importance because it is essentially an island ecosystem surrounded by human development. The possibilities for research are great. Contact the OMBS (see below) for more information or to visit the WLBS.
Four species of Shrews might reside on the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station. One, our logo/mascot animal, is the Southeastern Shrew (Sorex longirostris, upper left) which was found in 1970 in a pitfall trap (note long tail and nose); none other of that species has ever been found on OMBS. The only other shrew known from the OMBS is the short-tailed Shrew (Blarina carolinensis, upper right) . Note short tail, which seems to be common.
However, two other species should be here. The Least Shrew (Cryptotis parva, lower left)- note short tail and tiny ears- is of common occurrence throughout the southeastern U.S. but has never been recorded from the OMBS. That species is tiny, secretive, and probably does not leave the security of hollow logs, stumps, crevices, or subterranean burrows, and is usually associated with fields and edge habitats. Another species, the Desert Shrew (Notiosorex crawfordi, lower right) , - note long tail and big ears- is a western species that is known from Arkansas and possibly is in the Ouachita Mountains, which extends from western Oklahoma to central Arkansas. The photo of Notiosorex is by Laurence M. Hardy; the other three are from Arkansas Mammals, 1990, by John A. Sealander and Gary A. Heidt.
So, the shrew community known from the OMBS could be at least twice as diverse as the available data shows. Two species are known from the OMBS and two others might be here. If the Least Shrew is not on the OMBS – why not? That fact, impossible to prove) would raise several very important ecological questions regarding the required habitat, food, biological barriers, etc. The Desert Shrew is perhaps less of a question. The OMBS would be on the eastern edge of its geographic distribution and it might prefer more rocky and arid habitat; therefore, we might have some suitable habitat in upland areas. If it is here it probably has a very low population density. For more information, directions, and facilities please see our web site: www.theombs.org. If you are interested in bringing a class or other group, check our calendar for overnight availability (http://calendar.yahoo.com/ombs615); we have a total of 17 beds available, not counting camping or tents.
During the last few years we have noticed an increase in the feeder visits by raccoons, Gray Foxes, and Black Bears. Gray Squirrels and a variety of birds are at the feeder every day. The raccoons and a fox come almost every night, usually about 11 p.m. or later, and are easy to see. Plan now to bring your class or group to the OMBS this fall. The pleasant temperatures and large variety of animals that are active and the diversity of flowering and fruiting plants makes this time of year very interesting for all visitors.
Dr. Vicki LeFevers has been monitoring moths at the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station for several years. Most of her monthly observations have been at Kingfisher (the pavilion) using ultraviolet lights to attract moths to a suitable surface (a white sheet) for photography. The two species illustrated below are examples of the reward that can result from persistence in pursuing a scientific study of biodiversity.
Several species of warblers are thought to nest on the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station and among those are five of particular interest – Cerulean Warbler, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Swainson’s Warbler. A nest was found and accidently destroyed during brush-clearing with a weed-eater a few years ago near the office (Dogwood) that was thought to be that of an Ovenbird – it was never confirmed. The OMBS is at the southern edge of the breeding range of that species. The southwestern edge of the breeding range of the Cerulean Warbler is in the area of the OMBS and while sightings are very rare, singing of a bird in the same area on several occasions is very suggestive of nesting. The OMBS is well within the breeding range of the Louisiana Waterthrush but nesting has never been confirmed. The western edge of the breeding range of Swainson’s Warbler should include the OMBS – again, nesting has not been verified. Perhaps a more intriguing target is the Black-throated Green Warbler. This species can be heard singing almost everywhere at the OMBS and appears to be common. An isolated breeding population of this species is known just to the north of the OMBS – are our singing birds nesting or just moving through.