The Ouachita Mountains Biological Station has served collegiate needs as a research and education center since 1962. OMBS is a 600 acre natural area located in the Ouachita Mountains of the Interior Highlands. Elevation ranges from approximately 369 to 622 m. The area is a mixed pine hardwood forest depending upon the degree and orientation of the slope. Dominant tree species include shortleaf pine, post oak, black oak, blackjack oak, southern red oak, and sweetgum with dogwood, downy serviceberry, American hornbeam, eastern hophornbeam, and winged elm in the understory. Within a fifty mile radius several endemic species of salamanders may be found.

OMBS Location: 3.9m (6.5 km) Southwest of Big Fork, Polk County Arkansas


OMBS downloadable Station brochure

OMBS downloadable Facilities slide show

Click here to view our OMBS Calendar


Research on Shrews at the OMBS

photo of Olistrophorus blarina

This photo is a scanning electron micrograph (photo by Lance Durden) of a tiny mite (Olistrophorus blarina) from a specimen of Short-tailed Shrew found at the OMBS. Dr. Chris McAllister (Southeastern Oklahoma University) has been conducting research on parasites of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals at the OMBS for many years.

Shrews have been mammals of special interest at the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station for many years. The Southeastern Shrew (Sorex longirostris) was the first species of shrew documented at the OMBS by a specimen caught in 1970 by Gary Graham while he was a student studying biology. That specimen was reported by Gary in one of the first research papers published about the OMBS: “A western extension of the southeastern shrew, Sorex longirostris (Soricidae)” published in the Southwestern Naturalist, vol. 21, no. 3, p. 405, in 1976.

The only other species documented at the OMBS is the Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina carolinensis). Two other species are expected to be in the area: the Least Shrew (Cryptotis parva) and the Desert Shrew (Notiosorex crawfordi). These four species were featured in the OMBS Research Note number 62 “Shrews of the OMBS.”

This work just emphasizes the point that there new discoveries waiting to be made regarding field research. Does this tiny mite live on other species of shrews or other mammals? What other species of shrews can be discovered at the OMBS? And the list goes on! Dr. Laurence M. Hardy, Director Emeritus

Research Needed

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.

The Wallace Lake Biological Station (WLBS) now unit of OMBS

photo of Hypoxis hirsuta

Hypoxis hirsuta at the WLBS. Photo by Larry R. Raymond, March 27, 2017.

The Wallace Lake Biological Station (WLBS) is, as of 1 October 2017, an official unit of the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station. The WLBS, located on the edge of Wallace Lake in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, is an excellent site for biological studies involving a cypress swamp to the north and upland pine-oak forest to the south. The first major projects will include biological surveys, boundary marking, and improvements of roads, culverts, and fences. Visiting groups have already used the site and schedules are on the calendar for later this summer and fall. However, at this time, there are no visitor facilities available! There are no buildings, no restrooms, no drinking water, and no camping facilities (and no fires) – visitors are totally on their own. The good news is that solutions to all of those needs are under study and will be in place as soon as possible so that the WLBS can eventually be as effective for the study of field biology as is the OMBS. In the meantime all of us (field biologists, students, professors, scientists), will have access to an interesting ecosystem and will be able to work toward a productive future for the WLBS unit of the OMBS.

Directions to the WLBS can be found here.

Help fund the new Workshop for Research loan

The most important improvement we have made at the OMBS in the last 30 or more years is the construction of the new shop. Graduate students, faculty, and other researchers frequently need to build a piece of equipment or repair an item while in the field. It's a long way into town so this new facility keeps researchers from having to run into Mena for materials or tools. You can help by making a donation on our Donate page. Your support makes a significant difference to the work of the Station.

The OMBS Biota Project

The OMBS Biodiversity Project is being updated frequently now. Those of you who have visited the OMBS in the past and have made voucher collections would you check the biodiversity page and add any species that you can. Please e-mail me the species name and museum number of a voucher specimen. Thanks for your help.
Everyone can help with the OMBS Biota Project. Check the status of the biotic checklists of the OMBS. Museum of Life Sciences

Research and Education

The station serves collegiate groups, graduate students, faculty, and researchers for any aspect of field research. The station is available at any time during the year by reservation. Check out our Research Notebook.

Make the OMBS your headquarters


Abandoned Slate mine filled with water

...for research and study in the Ouachita Mountains of west-central Arkansas, or throughout Arkansas. The OMBS is close to great habitats within a one hour drive:

Rich Mountain

Cossatot River State Park

Bard Springs

Missouri River

Lake Greeson WMA

Little Missouri Falls

Mill Creek

Dierk’s Lake

Shady Lake

Albert Pike

OMBS Facilities



The recent acquisition of 80 acres on the south edge of the western tract of the OMBS includes a small cabin. For now we will refer to it as the West Cabin. It has a bunk bed, table, 2 chairs, kerosene lantern, and a few other items. It is sound, dry, and in a very remote location. From the headquarters it is about a one hour hike, along a marked but rough trail, through the national forest to the cabin. Once there, the cabin could provide shelter for work in any part of the western tract (180 acres). The West Cabin is locked and without electricity or water. Visitors can check out a key from the OMBS office and return the key when they return from the cabin. There are several spring-fed streams and well-developed mixed forest surrounding the cabin.

Photos of OMBS Facilities

1. NUTHATCH-- A 1,084 sq. ft. combination laboratory/kitchenette with sleeping facilities for ten; two bathrooms and one shower; heat/AC.

2. BUFO -- A small residence.

3. KINGFISHER -- A pavillion (with electricity and water) for camping or work space.

4. PHOEBE -- An educational building with excellent lighting, many windows, bathroom, shower, washer/dryer, heat/AC. Table workspace for 24+ persons.

5. NEOTOMA -- A small 1-bedroom cabin with 1 single bed and 2 bunk beds (5 total), windows, and electricty. No water.

6. BEAR -- The home of the Resident Manager.

7. FOUNTAIN SPRING HOME -- Two bedroom house (5977 Hwy 8 E) with 4 bunk beds (8 beds), heat/AC.

8. DOGWOOD -- The office and library, with heat/AC; home of Big Fork station of the U.S. Weather Bureau; wi-fi.

9. NECTURUS -- The well house. The new water system is treated and softened.

What to bring for your visit to OMBS:

Bedroll for overnight stay, towel, personal toiletries (these are not provided by OMBS). Food for meals. Also, any items needed for your OMBS stay, such as, notebook, binoculars, hiking boots, hat, mosquito repellant, and the capacity for a great outing.

Several miles of trails provide access to remote areas.
Research opportunities abound.
Extensive area permits tent camping.

The immediate vicinity of the buildings is wooded. An adjacent, spring-fed stream runs into three ponds in late stages of succession.

Since these facilities are privately funded, contributions toward expenses are gratefully accepted.