Entry Category: Science and Technology

Abernathy Spring

Abernathy Spring is a mineral spring located in Polk County, 2.8 km (1.75 mi.) east of the unincorporated community of Big Fork on the north side of State Highway 8. Elevation is 335 meters (1,099 ft.). The spring was owned by Rufus J. Abernathy (1856–1932), who resided at Big Fork and is buried at the Pleasant Grove Cemetery just outside of town and east of the spring. Water from the spring drains into adjacent Big Fork Creek (a tributary of the Ouachita River) and, at one time, was used for domestic purposes, such as for water supply and to keep food cold. There are actually two springs at this location—the primary one is a 75 cm (29.5 in.) diameter galvanized …

Acanthocephalans

aka: Spiny-Headed Worms
aka: Thorny-Headed Worms
These cylindrical metazoan worms, superficially similar to nematodes, belong to the phylum Acanthocephala and include four classes, ten orders, twenty-six families, and about 1,300 species. Recent molecular studies suggest that Rotifera (rotifers) and Acanthocephala are phylogenetically related sister groups. Adult members are highly specialized, dioecious (having distinct male and female colonies, as opposed to hermaphroditic) parasites of the intestinal tract of a variety of vertebrates (but not generally humans). They cause serious disease fairly rarely. The life cycle involves at least two hosts, either an aquatic intermediate host (Amphipoda, Copepoda, Isopoda, and Ostracoda) or terrestrial intermediate hosts including insects, crustaceans, and myriapods. Fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals serve as definitive hosts. Acanthocephalans range from 0.92 to 2.4 millimeters long …

Algae

Arkansas has a very diverse assemblage of algae. The majority of the research conducted on algae in the state is published in the Arkansas Academy of Science’s journal, but some is available in other journals and government publications. Most of the studies have been performed in northern Arkansas by Dr. Richard L. Meyer from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He and his graduate students undertook many studies that were developed into MS and PhD theses. The studies were performed in rivers (Buffalo, White, Arkansas, and Mississippi rivers), a few lakes (Lake Chicot, Lake Fort Smith, and Lake Fayetteville), a few smaller ponds, a stream, and an agricultural rice field. Three studies were done in Hot Springs …

Alligator Snapping Turtle

The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is North America’s largest freshwater turtle. This turtle is found primarily in major rivers, streams, swamps, and oxbow lakes throughout much of the south-central United States—all around the states of Arkansas and Mississippi and in portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, and Florida. Alligator snapping turtles have distinct morphological features that distinguish them from their closest cousin, the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). For example, the dorsal shell, or carapace, of the alligator snapping turtle has three prominent keels (ridges on the carapace), whereas the keels of the snapping turtle are low and become less conspicuous with age. The tails of both species have three rows of tubercles (warty projections), but these scales …

American Alligator

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) belongs to the class Reptilia, order Crocodylia, superfamily Alligatoroidea, and family Alligatoridae. There are seven species in the family endemic to the New World tropics, with an eighth species occurring in the warmer temperate regions of China. The American alligator is endemic to the southeastern coastal plain of the United States, where it inhabits freshwater wetlands such as streams, reservoirs, ponds, lakes, coastal marshes, bayous, oxbows, and cypress swamps associated with larger rivers in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida (and some Florida Keys), Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia; it also occurs in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas south of San Antonio, and farther south into the thornscrub …

American Eel

The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) belongs to the order Anguilliformes and family Anguillidae. Common names include Atlantic eel, common eel, freshwater eel, silver eel, yellow-bellied eel, green eel, black eel, bronze eel, elver, whip, and easgann. This family includes about eighteen facultative catadromous species of eels. The American eel ranges from Greenland and Iceland and all the drainages of eastern North America along the Atlantic and Gulf slopes west to New Mexico and south to Venezuela and islands of the Caribbean and West Indies across a latitudinal range of 5 to 62° N. In North America, A. rostrata occurs inland from eastern Canada to the Great Lakes, in the headwaters of many Atlantic and Gulf slope rivers, and in the …

Amphibians

Arkansas has within its borders a modest assemblage of salamanders, frogs, and toads, which are taxonomically grouped in the class Amphibia and, therefore, are commonly called amphibians. Amphibians were the first tetrapods (four-legged vertebrates) to walk on land, having come from an early-evolving group of lobe-finned fishes nearly 360 million years ago. Today’s amphibians possess a mostly bony skeleton with a strong “backbone” comprising a series of interlocking vertebrae. Salamanders are termed caudates because they possess a tail in both the juvenile and adult forms, whereas frogs and toads (collectively called anurans) lack tails as adults even though the larvae (tadpoles) possess them. The study of amphibians has been traditionally linked with the study of reptiles in the professional field …

Arachnids

Arachnids belong to Chelicerata, one of four groups of living arthropods. The other three groups are Crustacea, Myriapoda (centipedes and millipedes), and Hexapoda (insects and relatives). There are eleven living arachnid orders, and Arkansas has representatives of five of these including Scorpiones (scorpions), Pseudoscorpiones (pseudoscorpions), Opiliones (harvestmen), Aranea (spiders), and Acari (mites). Overview of Arachnids Arachnid bodies are divided into two main regions called the prosoma (cephalothorax) and opisthosoma (abdomen). These regions have been subdivided in some groups (e.g., solifugids, scorpions). The prosoma holds six pairs of appendages. Unlike in all other arthropods, the first appendages in chelicerates are not sensory antennae but pincer-like mouthparts known as chelicerae (hence the subphylum name). Behind the chelicerae, there are two pedipalps that …

Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI)

The Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) was created as the major research component set forth in the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000, passed by sixty-four percent of Arkansas voters in the general election on November 7, 2000. The primary goal of ABI is to improve the health of Arkansans through new and expanded agricultural and biomedical research initiatives, and, to that end, it operates as a partnership in health-related research with its five member institutions: Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Arkansas State University (ASU), the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000 directed the State of …

Arkansas Black Apple

The Arkansas Black Apple is recognized by early sources as having been first produced in 1870 in the orchard of a Mr. Brathwaite, which was then about one and a half miles northwest of Bentonville (Benton County). The fruit, a variety of Winesap, is usually round and of medium size. The flesh is yellow, fine grained, crisp, juicy, and aromatic, while the skin is dark red to black, hence its name. It ripens in October or November, and the fruit keeps well though the storage season of two to four months. Originally, the tree was thought to be a seedling of the Winesap Apple. It is a true native apple grown in the Ozarks of both Arkansas and Missouri. There …

Arkansas Darter

aka: Etheostoma cragini
Arkansas darter (Etheostoma cragini) populations are scattered among some small, spring-fed tributaries of the Arkansas River basin in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. This fish species is rare in Arkansas, being found only in a few spring runs in the Illinois River basin of Benton and Washington counties. The small streams occupied by Arkansas darters are characterized by slow current and silt substrates. The darters shelter in watercress and other aquatic plants, overhanging or flooded terrestrial vegetation, and even in the loose silt of the stream bottom. In some places, they have been observed to move down into larger streams, but this has not been so in Arkansas. They grow to a maximum size of around two inches and …

Arkansas Department of Information Systems (ADIS)

The Arkansas Department of Information Systems (ADIS) provides information technology solutions for the state government of Arkansas. It maintains the government’s telecommunication services and ensures connectivity and security among the various state agencies. The forerunner of ADIS was the Arkansas Department of Computer Services (ADCS), created by Act 884 of 1977, which abolished the Administrative Services Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and transferred its duties and responsibilities to the newly created ADCS. The act mandated that ADCS “establish and operate a central data processing system, consisting of such equipment, services, and programs as are necessary therefore, to meet the data processing needs of the respective state agencies.” ADCS was also required to operate a central telephone …

Arkansas Entomological Society

The Arkansas Entomological Society (AES) was founded in May 1991 by entomology educators, researchers, and industry professionals under the guidance of Dr. William Yearian, former chair of the Entomology Department at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The first president of the society, Dr. Timothy Kring, drafted the society’s constitution with the purpose of fostering entomological accomplishment among its members as well as bringing about closer coordination and understanding among research, regulatory, educational, and commercial entomologists. Entomology is the study of insects and related organisms. Meetings of the society have been held annually since its founding, with locations and dates varying, but most often held on the first Friday and Saturday in October. Every other year, the …

Arkansas Fatmucket

aka: Lampsilis powellii
The Arkansas fatmucket is a bivalve mollusk belonging to the family Unionidae, commonly referred to as freshwater mussels, naiads, or clams. Each freshwater mussel is composed to two halves (valves) of a hard outer shell, with the living animal (soft tissues) residing securely inside. The Arkansas fatmucket (Lampsilis powellii) was described as a species new to science in 1852 by Isaac Lea, a naturalist and publisher by trade residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lea based his description on specimens provided to him by Dr. Josiah Hale and Professor W. Byrd Powell from the Saline River at Benton (Saline County). Adults rarely reach a length of four inches (100 millimeters), and males and females are sexually dimorphic—that is, they have slightly different …

Arkansas Geological Survey (AGS)

The Arkansas Geological Survey (AGS), formerly the Arkansas Geological Commission (AGC), is an agency of the Arkansas state government charged with the investigation of the geology, geologic processes, and geologic resources of the state. It is further charged to encourage the effective management and utilization of the various mineral, fossil-fuel, and water resources with proper consideration of the potential environmental impacts of that activity. The Geological Survey of Arkansas was first established in 1857 with engagement of David Dale Owen as state geologist. He was funded for three years and was only able to publish part of his findings. Owen ultimately published another report in 1860 just a few days before he died. His training in geology was such that …

Arkansas Mycological Society

The purpose of the Arkansas Mycological Society (AMS) is to educate its members in the differences between—and the similarities that occur within—edible, inedible, and poisonous mushrooms and other fungi that occur in Arkansas and to promote overall interest in Arkansas’s mushrooms and fungi. In the fall of 1980, Edith Nelson and Jay Justice, who had both recently joined the North American Mycological Society (NAMA), delivered a presentation on mushrooms and fungi at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Edith Nelson (who died in 2004) was a retired high school teacher who had taught history and math, and Jay Justice was a chemist employed at what was at the time the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology (now the Arkansas Department of …

Arkansas Native Plant Society

The Arkansas Native Plant Society (ANPS) was established in 1980 to promote, first, the preservation, conservation, study, and enjoyment of the native plants of Arkansas; second, the education of the public regarding the value of native plants and their habitats; and, third, the publication of related information. Regular meetings are held in the spring and fall of each year to conduct business, give presentations, and embark on field trips. The ANPS newsletter, Claytonia, is published preceding the spring and fall meetings. On November 17, 1979, consideration to form ANPS took place at the annual Arkansas Biological Curriculum Development Conference on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). In a session discussing endangered plants, the …

Arkansas Research Alliance

A public/private economic-development organization, the nonprofit Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) was established in 2008 with start-up funding from the State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA). The organization evolved from the efforts of Accelerate Arkansas and its strategic plan of 2007. The ARA is modeled after the successful Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) that began under the leadership of Georgia governor Zell Miller in the early 1990s. The ARA’s primary focus is recruiting and retaining leadership in key research areas in which Arkansas has strong core competencies with long-term economic-development potential. The ARA has five university members: the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville …

Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA)

The Arkansas Science and Technology Authority (ASTA) was created in 1983. Its mission is to bring the benefits of science and advanced technology to Arkansas. The legislation creating the authority was based on the growing interest in replicating the technology-based economies of Boston, Massachusetts; California’s Silicon Valley; and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. For most states, the justification for establishing mechanisms similar to Arkansas’s was faith that investment in science and technology would lead to the creation of high-tech jobs. The first programs were implemented in 1986, and more have been added. The programs are grouped into three broad categories: research and commercialization, technology and manufacturing extension, and management services. In the research programs, ASTA provides funds and technical support …

Arkansas Sky Observatories

Arkansas Sky Observatories (ASO) is a network of four observatories that conduct studies of near Earth asteroids (NEOs), objects that pose a danger of impact at some point to planet Earth. ASO began in 1971, located on the south brow of Petit Jean Mountain. ASO was one of the first five contributing observatories to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics network and continues to be a major contributor to the Harvard Minor Planet Center today. This relationship has resulted in more than 50,000 contributed orbital measurements of comets and asteroids. ASO was established by P. Clay Sherrod and his brother, Brian Sherrod. P. Clay Sherrod has authored seventeen books in astronomy, archaeology, and the environmental/biological sciences, and has patented numerous inventions …

Arkansas State Crime Laboratory

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was established by Act 517 of 1977, Act 864 of 1979, and Act 45 of 1981. The laboratory offers services to state law enforcement agencies in forensic pathology, toxicology, physical evidence (serological and trace evidence), drug analysis, latent fingerprint identification, firearms and toolmarks, digital evidence, and DNA. The laboratory also participates with several federal agencies in the collection of data in the areas of DNA, through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS); latent fingerprints, though the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS); and firearms, through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). Prior to 1977, the functions of the laboratory were carried out by several state agencies, including the Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas …

Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS)

The Arkansas State Horticultural Society (ASHS) is a horticultural crop producers’ organization whose primary purpose is to provide its members, through annual meetings, with information to enhance their horticultural enterprises. The Arkansas State Horticultural Society was formally organized on May 24, 1879, by nineteen men meeting in the council chamber of the city of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The organizers were engaged in horticultural pursuits and were aware of a growing interest in horticultural crops being grown on lands adjacent to the land-grant railroads then expanding through Arkansas. News of the May 24 meeting was published in area papers, extending an invitation for all interested to attend. The object of the society is “to collect and disseminate information relative to …

Arkansite

Arkansite—a mineral that exists in ten U.S. states and eleven countries—is actually brookite, the rarest of the three polymorphs (minerals containing the same chemistry but different internal structures) of titanium oxide. All three polymorphs—brookite, rutile, and anatase—are found at Magnet Cove (Hot Spring County). The brookite crystals found at Magnet Cove are sharp, black, and lustrous as opposed to the transparent or translucent brown/black crystals found elsewhere. This results from the substitution of varying amounts of iron and niobium for titanium in the structure. Charles Shepard (1804–1886) laid claim to the discovery of arkansite in a report he published in 1846. He named the “new” mineral arkansite after the state where the specimen he examined had been found. When a …

Audubon Arkansas

Audubon Arkansas was established in 2000 as the twenty-fifth state office of the National Audubon Society through a seed grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. Audubon Arkansas’s mission is to inspire and lead Arkansans in environmental education, resource management, habitat restoration, bird conservation, and enlightened advocacy. In 2003, Audubon Arkansas was recognized as “Conservation Organization of the Year” by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation. Robert Shults was the founding board chairman of Audubon Arkansas. Shults, an Arkansan, served on the National Audubon Society board of directors from 1980 to 1986. The chairman of the National Audubon Society at the time was Donal C. O’Brien. O’Brien and Shults both served on the board of trustees of the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. …

Audubon, John James

John James Audubon, a frontier naturalist and artist, is famous for illustrating and writing The Birds of America. He visited Arkansas Territory in 1820 and 1822 and documented Arkansas’s birds, including the Traill’s flycatcher, also known as the willow flycatcher, which is the only bird originally discovered in Arkansas. John Audubon was born Jean Rabin on April 26, 1785, in Saint-Domingue (Haiti). He was the illegitimate child of Jean Audubon, a ship’s captain, and Jeanne Rabin, a French chambermaid. His mother died in 1785 or 1786, and Jean Audubon and his children returned to France after a slave revolt. Along with his sister, he was adopted by his father and stepmother in 1794. Audubon stayed with his father and stepmother …

Bachman, Joseph

Joseph Bachman is widely recognized as Arkansas’s leading developer of grape varieties. During his career, he received national and international attention for his development of grape vines, winning several awards and supplying cuttings and plants to numerous nurseries. Joseph Bachman was born in 1853 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Little is known about his childhood, including his family, education, and early career. According to immigration records, Bachman arrived in New York on May 9, 1878, on a ship that had departed Le Havre, France, earlier that year. By 1881, following the advice of his relatives, Bachman had settled in the town of Altus (Franklin County), where many of his other countrymen resided. He held a wide array of occupations, serving as the …

Bachman’s Warbler

aka: Vermivora bachmanii
Bachman’s warbler (Vermivora bachmanii) was a small, yellow-and-black bird of the American wood-warbler family (Parulidae) that formerly nested in the southeastern United States, including Arkansas. In winter, Bachman’s warblers migrated south to spend the winter on the island of Cuba. Preferring swampy bottomland habitat, the species suffered severe population decline in the early twentieth century when that habitat began disappearing and is now believed by most ornithologists to be extinct. Bachman’s warbler was discovered in 1832 near Charleston, South Carolina, by the Reverend John Bachman, a skilled amateur naturalist. Bachman (pronounced BACKman) was a close friend to John James Audubon, the famed naturalist and artist. Audubon painted a pair of the birds based on skins (prepared specimens) and named the …

Baerg, William J.

William J. Baerg was a naturalist, entomologist, and teacher who served as head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for thirty-one years. His research on black widow spiders, tarantulas, scorpions, and other arthropods led to descriptions of their behavior, biology, and natural history that had previously been largely ignored by biologists and entomologists. William Baerg was born in Hillsboro, Kansas, to Johann and Magaretha (Hildebrand) Baerg on September 24, 1885. His parents, who had left Russia in 1874, worked as field hands on a Kansas wheat farm. The family later acquired a small piece of land for their own. Baerg was the sixth of seven children. Baerg began school at age seven. At …