Entries - 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 a division of the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment (ADEE) 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 …

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). In 2019, the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory was placed under the newly created umbrella agency the Arkansas Department of Public Safety (ADPS), along …

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 …

Baker, Oliver Keith

Oliver Keith Baker is a Yale University physicist who has conducted groundbreaking research in particle physics and is a nationally known educator for his work on integrating technology into the classroom. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Oliver Baker was born on July 18, 1959, in McGehee (Desha County) to Oliver Walter Baker and Yvonne Brigham Baker of Tillar (Drew and Desha counties); he has ten siblings. His parents were both college educated, having met at what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). He discovered a talent for science and mathematics while in junior high. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, when he was in middle school. After graduating from …

Banded Pygmy Sunfish

The banded pygmy sunfish (Elassoma zonatum) belongs to its own family (Elassomatidae) and the Order Perciformes. It is a diminutive sunfish that is about 25 to 40 mm (1.0 to 1.5 in.) in total length. This fish is endemic to the United States, where it ranges in the Mississippi River drainage from Indiana and Illinois south to Texas and east along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina south to Florida. There are six additional species of Elassoma, including spring pygmy sunfish (E. alabamae), Carolina pygmy sunfish (E. boehlkei), Everglades pygmy sunfish (E. evergladei), Gulf Coast pygmy sunfish (E. gilberti), bluebarred pygmy sunfish (E. okatie), and Okefenokee pygmy sunfish (E. okefenokee). Interestingly, E. zonatum was described by the “Father of American …

Baring Cross Bridge

The Baring Cross Bridge is located in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) over the Arkansas River at river mile 166.2. It is the western-most bridge of the six bridges spanning the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. The first Baring Cross Bridge, the first bridge built across the Arkansas River, opened in 1873. In the 1850s and 1860s, the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company (C&F) developed two divisions north and south of the Arkansas River. Before the bridge was constructed, the railroad company used ferries to transport equipment, people, animals and commercial freight across the river. Ferries, however, were slow and had a limited amount of cargo space, which caused frequent backups in service. Also, cargo was lost in ferry …

Barton, Loy

Loy Edgar Barton was a prolific pioneer in the field of radio and television engineering. He was awarded a number of U.S. patents and was responsible for significant technical inventions in radio and television technology. Loy Barton was born on November 7, 1897, to Henry Barton and Mary Frances Barton in Washington County, Arkansas, and spent his early life there. He displayed an early interest in machinery and the relatively new fields of electricity and “wireless” transmission, leading to his enrollment in the engineering program at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He received an undergraduate degree there and began teaching engineering courses at the school. During this period, Barton elected to pursue advanced engineering studies and, …

Bats

Bats belong to the class Mammalia and the order Chiroptera. There are two suborders: the Yinpterochiroptera (formerly Megachiroptera), which includes the horseshoe and Old World fruit bats (megabats), and the Yangochiroptera (formerly Microchiroptera), the remainder of bats. Worldwide, there are eighteen families, 202 genera, and more than 1,100 species of bats with only about four percent (at least forty-five species) occurring in the United States. This mammalian order is second only in number of species behind the rodents (order Rodentia). Sixteen bat species occur in Arkansas. Much of the past research on bats in Arkansas was conducted by Michael J. (Mick) Harvey (1934–2015) of Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville. His research on several endangered bats in Arkansas was instrumental in …

Beaver Dam and Lake

Beaver Lake was created by Beaver Dam in Carroll County. The lake—technically a reservoir since it was created by a manmade dam in order to store water—is located on the White River in the Ozark Highlands region of northwest Arkansas. Approximately seventy-three miles long and a maximum of two miles wide, the lake reaches from Eureka Springs (Carroll County) roughly to Fayetteville (Washington County). About 450 miles of shoreline extend through three counties: Benton, Carroll and Washington. The multi-purpose project provides flood control, hydroelectric generation, water supply, and recreation. While the possibility of a dam on the upper White River was examined as early as 1911, the first feasibility studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for constructing such …

Berry, Danielle Bunten

aka: Daniel Bunten
Danielle (Dani) Berry was a revolutionary computer game designer who specialized in multi-player games at a time when few in the industry were interested in the idea. She is also remembered for breaking gender boundaries in the industry, having been assigned male at birth but undergoing gender transition late in her career. Berry’s 1983 game M.U.L.E. was listed third on Computer Gaming World’s 1996 list of the best games of all time, and Will Wright, the designer of Sim City, once said, “Ask most game designers what their favorite computer game of all time is, and you’ll get M.U.L.E. as an answer more often than any other title.” She was a major influence upon the likes of Wright and Civilization …

Big Arkie

Big Arkie was a thirteen-foot-long alligator caught in 1952 near Hope (Hempstead County). He was the Little Rock Zoo’s main attraction for eighteen years. Weighing 500 pounds, Big Arkie was considered to be the largest alligator in captivity in the western hemisphere. Big Arkie was spied by a young boy in a flooded pasture by Yellow Creek, which is west of Hope. Ed Jackson, caretaker of a local hunting club, was alerted and, with some companions, wrapped Big Arkie in a fifty-foot-long cable attached to a tractor. The alligator spent one night in Hope’s public children’s pool, encased in chicken wire. On the following day, he was delivered to the Little Rock Zoo, doubled up in a crate. When the …

Birds

The birdlife of Arkansas (its avifauna) comprises just over 400 species, although that number includes more than forty species that have been extirpated (that is, they no longer occur) in the state, are completely extinct, or are rarities that have strayed into Arkansas fewer than a half dozen times. Around 350 species, then, can be found in Arkansas with some regularity. About 145 species nest within the state. Others nest north of Arkansas and spend the winter here or pass through the state in spring and fall as they migrate to and from nesting grounds to the north and wintering areas to the south. Arkansas’s location in the south-central United States means that its avifauna is generally typical of North …

Birdwatching

aka: Birding
Birdwatching, also commonly called birding, is the hobby of observing wild birds. Involvement in the pursuit ranges from enjoying birds on backyard feeders to traveling thousands of miles, nationally or internationally, to see new and different species. Birdwatching is usually considered to be distinct from ornithology, which is the scientific study of birds, although there is considerable overlap between the two. Birdwatchers often keep records of when and where they saw different species. Many people keep records simply for the personal satisfaction of remembering interesting and unusual sightings. Records kept by amateur birdwatchers, however, have made significant contributions to ornithology by helping with the knowledge of bird distribution and abundance. Most birdwatchers keep a life list—a record of all the …

Black Bears

aka: Ursus americanus
Black bears have a rich and varied history in Arkansas. Once giving to the state its unofficial nickname (the “Bear State”), bruins long shaped society and culture in Arkansas and continue to do so. Used for meat, fur, and fat, bears were a valuable commodity in the colonial period. By the early nineteenth century, although bears were still prized for their original uses, the bear-human relationship began to shift toward overt exploitation and bear hunting as a quest for masculine identity. By the first decades of the twentieth century, Arkansas black bears were at the brink of extirpation, but the population has since been revived. Native Americans were the first to hunt black bears in the region. Documented evidence of …

Blakely Mountain Dam

aka: Blakely Dam
aka: Lake Ouachita
Blakely Mountain Dam, located approximately ten miles northwest of Hot Springs (Garland County), was created to provide hydroelectric power and to control flooding along the Ouachita River. It impounds Lake Ouachita, the largest lake completely within the state of Arkansas at over 40,000 acres. In 1870, the U.S. Congress authorized a survey of the Ouachita River to investigate improving its navigability and preventing floods along its course. However, nothing was done until the 1920s, when Harvey Couch and his company, Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L), began searching for sites for hydroelectric dams along the Ouachita River. AP&L built Remmel Dam and Carpenter Dam, which were in place by the early 1930s. Plans for a third, larger dam were announced in …

Blue Mountain Dam and Lake

Blue Mountain Lake is a manmade lake, or reservoir, on Petit Jean River in Logan County. A portion of the lake extends into Yell County. The dam was built in the 1940s as a flood-control project, but since its completion, the lake has also provided numerous recreational opportunities. It is named for Blue Mountain, an outcropping of Mount Magazine. Land patents on farmland where the lake now lies were granted to William Mobly, James Henard, and Augustus Ward, all in 1861. By 1891, an unincorporated community called Patsie had developed in the area. Several cemeteries had to be relocated during the development of the lake. In 1899, when the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad was built to the north of …

Bobby Hopper Tunnel

Arkansas has seven railroad tunnels but only one highway tunnel. Named for the Arkansas Highway Commission director at the time of the tunnel’s construction, Bobby Hopper, the northwest Arkansas commission representative from Springdale (Washington County), the Bobby Hopper Tunnel is located on Interstate 49 in Washington County just north of the Crawford County line with its closest exit at Winslow (Washington County). U.S. Highway 71, once classified by Reader’s Digest as “one of the most dangerous highways in America,” includes a perilous stretch between Alma (Crawford County) and Fayetteville (Washington County) through the Ozark Plateau. Thus, construction of an alternate route was designed to make the trip safer, as well as reduce travel time. Approved in 1987 and completed in …

Bodark

aka: Osage Orange
aka: Maclura pomifera
aka: Bois d'Arc
aka: Horse Apple
aka: Hedge Apple
The bodark tree (Maclura pomifera) is a common tree in Arkansas, known to live in at least forty-seven of the state’s seventy-five counties. The name “bodark” is a slurring of the French “bois d’arc,” meaning “wood of the bow”—a reference to the Osage Indians’ practice of making bows from the tree. The Osage connection survives in another common appellation, Osage orange, which refers to the unique fruit of the tree, as do other names, such as horse apple and hedge apple. Native to the area encompassing Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, the bodark tree was among those described by William Dunbar of the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition while proceeding to the Ouachita River. French explorers had already encountered the Osage using …

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) in Fayetteville (Washington County) opened in 2007 on acreage leased from the City of Fayetteville. The nonprofit organization is the result of a grassroots effort to establish a botanical garden with a mission of offering education, entertainment, and recreation to adults and children through a variety of events, programs, classes, and community connections. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a member of the American Horticulture Society—which allows BGO members reciprocal admission to gardens and arboretums across the country—and the American Public Gardens Association, which encourages involvement in gardening for all ages. The Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks was incorporated in January 1994. The founder and first director was Donna Porter, who …

Bowfin

aka: Grinnell
Bowfin (Amia calva) belong to the primitive North American fish family Amiidae and Order Amiiformes. The family is monotypic and contains a single genus and species (A. calva). Bowfin are basal bony fishes related to gars in the infraclass Holostei. They are native to North America and are commonly found throughout much of the eastern United States, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Champlain drainages of southern Ontario, and Quebec, Canada. Their range extends farther westward around the Great Lakes into Minnesota and south to the Colorado River in Texas. In Arkansas, A. calva is found in all major river drainages of the Gulf Coastal Plain lowlands and westward through the Arkansas River Valley; they are rarely found in the …

Bowman, Malcolm Cleaburne

Malcolm Cleaburne Bowman was respected worldwide as an analytical chemist, researcher, and author. He and his associates are credited with devising many techniques and processes as well as developing much of the equipment that became common within the fields of chemistry and scientific research. Malcolm Bowman was born on December 6, 1926, in Alcedo, Texas, to Clyde C. Bowman, a Cotton Belt Railroad brakeman and conductor, and Lillian McBee Bowman, a teacher and retail clerk; he was the couple’s only child. The family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 1936. Bowman graduated from Pine Bluff High School and went on to receive a BS in chemistry at Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway …

Branchiobdellidans

aka: Crayfish Worms
Branchiobdellidans, or crayfish worms, are leech-like, clitellate annelids belonging to the Phylum Annelida and Order Brachiobdellida (single family Brachiobdellidae) that form an obligate, ectosymbiotic association primarily with astacoidean crayfishes. They have long been known as “branchiobdellid worms” because they were considered a separate family of the oligochaetes; however, more recent treatment of these worms as a separate taxonomic order technically renders their epithet more correctly as “branchiobdellidan worms” or simply “branchiobdellidans.” Branchiobdellidans are a monophyletic clade of more than 150 ectosymbiont species within twenty-one genera found throughout North and Central America, Europe, and eastern Asia, of which about fifteen genera and 107 species have been reported from North America, including in Arkansas. However, branchiobdellid fauna in Arkansas need further study. …

Branner, John Casper

John Casper Branner began serving as state geologist for the Arkansas Geological Survey on June 24, 1887, and served in that capacity until the state legislature abolished the position on March 16, 1893. Branner’s tenure was noted for a high standard of professionalism, and he made significant contributions to the economic and geologic resources of Arkansas that lasted for decades. John Branner was born in New Market, Tennessee, on July 4, 1850, to Michael T. Branner, who was a farmer, and Elsie Baker Branner. Educated in the local schools, Branner was an avid reader and developed a deep interest in the natural features of the Tennessee countryside. He enrolled at Maryville College, near Knoxville, Tennessee, but in 1870, after only …

Bridges

At the time Arkansas became a territory, most water crossings were fords. When travelers came to a body of water such as a small river or stream, they would look for the shallowest place and cross there. Generally, these fords were adequate for the small number of early travelers in the territory. But as the population of the state slowly grew and a system of military roads was developed, it became necessary to bridge larger bodies of water to make travel faster and easier for the military and the local population. The first attempts at bridge-building in Arkansas were by private individuals. These individuals applied for a franchise to build a toll bridge, which was granted by the territorial legislature. …

Bromine

Bromine (chemical symbol Br) is a highly corrosive, reddish-brown, volatile element found in liquid form. Bromine—along with fluorine, chlorine, and iodine—is part of a family of elements known as the halogens. Arkansas ranks first in the world in the production of bromine, the basis for many widely used chemical compounds. Bromine, along with petroleum and natural gas, is one of the top three minerals produced in Arkansas. The West Gulf Coastal Plain encompasses most of southern Arkansas. During the Paleozoic era (543 to 248 million years ago), this natural division was covered by seawater. Bromine, which occurs naturally in seawater, was extracted from the water by seaweed and plankton. As these organisms decomposed during the Jurassic period (206 to 144 …