Zoology

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Entry Category: Zoology

Fleas

Fleas are small, wingless, hematophagous (blood-feeding) ectoparasites that belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, and Order Siphonaptera. There are four recognized suborders—Ceratophyllomorpha, Hystrichopsyllomorpha, Pulicomorpha, and Pygiopsyllomorpha—with about 246 recognized genera and over 2,500 described species within sixteen families. Adult fleas feed on blood of mostly mammals (about ninety-four percent of known species), including dogs, cats, and humans, with the remainder of species parasitizing birds. Fleas are an important component of the worldwide biota. In addition, they can be nuisance biters, and some serve as vectors or intermediate hosts of flea-borne disease agents and parasites. The most recent summary listed twenty-nine species of fleas in Arkansas. Fleas are most closely related, evolutionarily speaking, to insects in the orders Diptera (true …

Fourche Mountain Salamander

aka: Plethodon fourchensis
The Fourche Mountain salamander (Plethodon fourchensis) is a slender, large (115–178 millimeters in total length) terrestrial salamander that is one of twenty or so members of the caudate family Plethodontidae that can be found in Arkansas. This species is one of three endemic salamanders known to exist in Arkansas and is confined to Fourche Mountain and Irons Fork Mountain in the south-central region of the Ouachita Mountains. Normally, these salamanders can be found beneath the surface rock of hillsides and valleys within these mountains; however, they can also be found under rotting logs on the forest floor. Adults of this species possess two longitudinal rows of large, white blotches on the back; the dorsal body color is, otherwise, uniformly black. …

Freshwater Drum

aka: Grunter
aka: Gaspergou
The freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) belongs to the order Perciformes and family Sciaenidae; it is the only freshwater member of the family. Freshwater drum are endemic to freshwater environs of the Americas, and their distributional range extends as far north as the Hudson Bay of Canada and reaches as far south as the Usumacinta River Basin of Guatemala. In the United States, eastward distribution includes the eastern Appalachians westward as far as Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. This fish appears to have the greatest latitudinal range of any freshwater fish in North America. In Arkansas, A. grunniens occurs throughout the state but mainly is found in the larger lakes and rivers. The closest living relatives of A. grunniens are a group …

Gars

aka: Garfish
aka: Garpikes
Gars are a primitive group of euryhaline fishes dating back to the late Jurassic to early Cretaceous Period, about 150 million years ago. Gars are one of the most recognizable fishes because of their slender torpedo-shaped bodies, ganoid scales, and long snouts with numerous teeth. Dorsal and anal fins are set far back on the body, and the caudal fin is rounded, with a condition known as abbreviate-heterocercal. Gars are unusual among fishes in that their vascularized swim bladders can function as lungs; they must surface periodically to take a gulp of air. Arkansas hosts four gar species: the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula), spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus), longnose gar (L. osseus), and shortnose gar (L. platostomous). Fossilized gar specimens have …

Gastrotrichs

aka: Hairybacks
The Phylum Gastrotricha (commonly called “hairybacks”) comprises about 800 species of marine, brackish, and freshwater microscopic invertebrates. Twelve genera and fewer than 100 species of freshwater gastrotrichs are known from North America. However, in North America, perhaps 75 to 90 percent of the probable diversity of freshwater gastrotrichs species are undescribed. Gastrotrichs are widely distributed cosmopolitan organisms that are divided into two orders: the Macrodasyida (with nine families), which, except for two freshwater species (Marinellina flagellata and Redudasys fornerise), are marine, and the Chaetonotida (seven families), some of which are marine, estuarine, and semi-terrestrial forms, while others are primarily found in freshwater. The Chaetonotida can be further broken down into two suborders: the Multitubulatina (Nesodasys) and the Paucitublatina (Chaetonotus, Dasydytes, …

Geckos

Geckos are lizards that belong to the Class Reptilia, Order Squamata, Suborder Sauria (Lacertilia), and Infraorder Gekkota within seven families, including Carphodactylidae (seven genera, thirty species), Diplodactylidae (twenty-five genera, 137 species), Eublepharidae (six genera, thirty species), Gekkonidae (fifty-four genera, 1,264 species), Pygopodidae (eight genera, thirty-five species), Phyllodactylidae (nine genera, 100 species), and Sphaerodactylidae (twelve genera, 200 species). By far, the true geckos (Gekkonidae) are the largest family of lizards. Many common geckos are members of this family, including dtellas (Gehyra), house geckos (Hemidactylus), true geckos (Gekko), and day geckos (Phelsuma). Geckos are cosmopolitan in distribution and are particularly species-rich in the tropics. At least one type of gecko is found in Arkansas. Geckos probably evolved in the Lower Cretaceous, and …

Goldeyes and Mooneyes

aka: Mooneyes and Goldeyes
aka: Hiodontid Fishes
North American freshwater fishes of the family Hiodontidae (order Hiodontiformes or Osteoglossiformes) include the goldeye (Hiodon alosoides) and mooneye (H. tergisus). The goldeye ranges from James Bay (bordering the provinces of Ontario and Quebec) in Canada and the Mississippi River basins from the Northwest Territory to western Pennsylvania and Ohio south to Louisiana. In Arkansas, H. alosoides is found sporadically in lakes and the larger turbid rivers of the state, including the Arkansas and Mississippi, and the smaller Black River. The mooneye (also called the “freshwater tarpon”) ranges from the St. Lawrence–Great Lakes, Mississippi River, and Hudson Bay basins from Quebec and Alberta, Canada, east to western North Carolina and south to Louisiana. In Arkansas, H. tergisus occurs in large …

Grotto Salamander

aka: Eurycea spelaea
aka: Ghost Lizard
aka: Ozark Blind Salamander
The grotto salamander (Eurycea spelaea) is a species of lungless salamander in the Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Class Amphibia, Order Caudata, and Family Plethodontidae. It was originally described as Typhlotriton spelaeus but is now considered a member of the genus Eurycea. It is endemic to wet caves, sinkholes, and karst regions beneath the Springfield and Salem Plateaus of the Ozark Mountains of 120 individual sites in northern Arkansas, 124 sites in southwestern Missouri, forty-three sites in northeastern Oklahoma, and one county (Cherokee) in extreme southeastern Kansas. Its natural habitats are freshwater springs, inland karsts, and caves. It is not listed by the federal government as endangered or threatened, but it is vulnerable to changes in groundwater quality and a reduction …

Haemogregarines

Haemogregarines are protist parasites that belong to the Phylum Apicomplexa, Class Conoidasida, Order Eucoccidiorina, and Suborder Adeleorina, and include the following seven families: Adeleidae, Dactylosomatidae, Haemogregarinidae, Hepatozoidae, Karyolysidae, Klossiellidae, and Legerellidae. There are two major genera, Haemogregarina and Hepatozoon, in addition to several minor ones, including Babesiosoma, Bartazoon, Cyrilia, Dactylosoma, Desseria, Hemolivia, and Karyolysus. As a group, these parasites are cosmopolitan in their range of infected hosts (such as turtles, crocodiles, birds, reptiles, and mammals) and geographic distribution. In general, haemogregarines sensu lato (meaning, in a broad sense) are elongate to fusiform ovoidal organisms that occur within the erythrocytes (red blood cells) of various animals, mostly poikilothermic vertebrates (animals whose internal temperatures vary widely). They form a group of diverse …

Harris, Ernest James

Ernest James Harris was an accomplished entomologist known for his work on breeding Biosteres arisanus, a species of wasp that parasitizes fruit fly eggs. Thanks to the work done by Harris, B. arisanus has been bred on a large scale for the purposes of pest eradication. More than twenty nations have adopted use of the “Harris strain” of the wasp for fruit fly eradication. Harris was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Ernest J. Harris was born on May 24, 1928. His parents had a farm in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), where Harris’s interest in insects first developed. After graduation, he attended Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). There, he majored …

Harvestmen

aka: Daddy Long-Legs
aka: Granddaddy Long-Legs
Harvestmen belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Chelicerata, Class Arachnida, and Order Opiliones. They represent the third most diverse order in Arachnida. The order Opiliones includes five suborders as follows: Cyphophthalmi, Eupnoi, Dyspnoi, Laniatores, and Tetrophthalmi. They are often referred to as “daddy long-legs.” They are found throughout the world (except Antarctica), and there are over 6,650 species. Their common name is derived from the fact that they are common during the harvesting season. They are traditionally akin with the Order Acari (ticks and mites) or the Novogenuata (the Scorpiones, Pseudoscorpiones, and Solifugae); however, others suggest the Opiliones forms a clade with the scorpions and two smaller orders. As such, they are considered the sister group of scorpions. In addition, …

Hemipterans

aka: True Bugs
Hemipterans, or true bugs, belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Superclass Hexapoda, Class Insecta, Order Hemiptera, and four suborders: Auchenorrhyncha, Coleorrhyncha, Sternorrhyncha, and Heteroptera. Hemiptera is the largest order of hemimetabolous insects (those not undergoing complete metamorphosis), although male scale insects (Coccoidea) do undergo a form of complete metamorphosis. The number of species in the order is about 75,000, with a great diversity of forms, including aphids, cicadas, leafhoppers, planthoppers, and shield bugs. The three largest families of Heteroptera are Miridae (plant bugs), Lygaeidae (seed bugs), and Pentatomidae (stink bugs). The largest family, Miridae, contains major insect pests and predatory groups that can be used as biological control agents. Although hemipterans inhabit a wide variety of habitats, most are generally terrestrial, …

Herrings

aka: Clupeids
Herrings (Order Clupeiformes) belong to a large family (Clupeidae) of about 200 species within fifty-four genera of cosmopolitan ray-finned fishes that are mostly marine; a few inhabit freshwater, and some are anadromous—that is, they migrate up rivers from saltwater habitats for purposes of spawning. The family includes herrings, menhadens, sardines, and shads. Most herrings are small fishes, generally being less than 300 mm (12 in.), but some may reach 750 mm (30 in.). Many are valuable food fishes and are collected for production of fish meal and oil, protein concentrate, and fertilizer. Some commercially important species include Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) found in the north Atlantic, Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), and Atlantic menhaden (Brevortia tyrannus). In the fossil record, clupeid …

Ictaluridae

aka: Catfishes
aka: Bullheads
aka: Madtoms
The Ictaluridae is a family of North American native fishes belonging to the Class Siluriformes. The Ictaluridae family also belongs to the Superorder Ostariophysi, the second-largest superorder of fish. This diverse group, present on all continents except Antarctica, contains 10,758 species—more than twenty-eight percent of known fish species in the world and seventy-two percent of all freshwater species. The family proper includes about seven genera and fifty-one species, some commonly known as bullheads, catfishes, and madtoms. As such, it is the largest family of freshwater fishes endemic to North America. In Arkansas, they are easily recognized as the only fishes in the state with four pairs (two on the snout, two on the end of maxillae, and four on the …

Insects

Insects account for over half of all species described thus far worldwide, and they are the dominant form of life in terrestrial environments. It is estimated that 35,000 to 40,000 species of insects live in Arkansas, including around 10,000 species of beetles, around 9,000 species of flies, nearly 8,000 species of bees and wasps, and around 5,000 species of moths and butterflies. The remainder make up small orders such as the bristletails, mayflies, dragonflies and damselflies, cockroaches, mantids, termites, stoneflies, grasshoppers and crickets, earwigs, stick insects, book and bark lice, chewing and sucking lice, and true bugs and lacewings and their relatives. It is still not uncommon to find species in Arkansas that are unnamed and new to the scientific …

Invasive Animals

aka: Alien Animals
An “invasive species” is defined as a species that is non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental problems or harm to human health. It typically matures and reproduces quickly and increases its geographic range rapidly, establishing populations and persisting over large areas. There are several reasons for this spread, including favorable environmental conditions and lack of natural predators, competitors, and diseases that normally regulate their populations, allowing invasive species to thrive. Invasive biota not only includes a variety of plants but also incorporates a wide variety of invertebrates and higher taxa from their native sites. As invasive species extend and dominate ecosystems, they invariably reduce native biodiversity …

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

aka: Campephilus principalis
Long believed to be extinct, the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) was rediscovered in the Big Woods of east Arkansas in 2004. More than sixty years after the last confirmed sighting in the United States, a research team announced on April 28, 2005, that at least one male ivory-bill survived in the vast bottomland swamp forest. Published in the journal Science, the findings included multiple sightings of the elusive woodpecker and frame-by-frame analyses of brief video footage. The evidence was gathered during an intensive year-long search in the Cache River and White River National Wildlife Refuges in eastern Arkansas, involving more than fifty experts and field biologists working as part of the Big Woods Conservation Partnership, led by the Cornell Laboratory …

James, Douglas Arthur

Douglas Arthur James served as a professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1953 to 2016. He was considered the authority of the birds of Arkansas, co-authoring Arkansas Birds with Joseph C. Neal in 1986, and became one of the state’s leading conservationists in the second half of the last century, helping to start the Arkansas Audubon Society in 1955 and the Arkansas Audubon Society Trust in 1972. He arranged the first meeting of what would become the Ozark Society, which was responsible for saving the Buffalo River from damming. Starting with studies of scrubland birds in northwestern Arkansas, James expanded to studying scrubland birds in Africa, Nepal, and Belize. He was …

Jumping Bristletails

aka: Archeognatha
aka: Microcoryphia
The Archaeognatha (formerly Microcoryphia) are an order of apterygotes belonging to the Superclass Hexapoda, Class Insecta, Subphylum Labiata, and Phylum Arthropoda. They are known by various common names, such as jumping bristletails. The order is cosmopolitan and includes about 500 species (thirty-three species within twelve genera are Nearctic) in two families (Machilidae and Meinertellidae). None are currently evaluated as being a conservation risk. Little is known about the archaeognaths of Arkansas, as only Machiloides banksi and Pedetontus gershneri have been reported from the state, both from Mount Magazine (Logan County). Among extant arthropod taxa, they are some of the most evolutionarily primitive insects. The fossil record of Archaeognatha is sparse and often represented by fragmentary material. They first appeared in …

Lampreys

aka: Jawless Fishes
Lampreys are primitive jawless fishes in the Family Petromyzontidae, Order Petromyzontiformes, Class Petromyzontida, and Superclass Cyclostomata. The common name “lamprey” is almost certainly derived from the Latin lampetra, which likely means “stone licker” (lambere “to lick” + petra “stone”). They are also sometimes called lamprey eels, although they are not eels. Instead, lampreys are the direct descendants of the first armored jawless fishes or ostracoderms, which first appeared over 400 million years ago during the Silurian and Devonian periods. Today, there are only two remaining groups of jawless fishes: the lampreys and the hagfishes (Order Myxiniformes, Class Myxini). Hagfishes, which resemble lampreys, are the sister taxon of lampreys based on DNA evidence. There are about forty-two living lamprey species in …

Leeches

Leeches are segmented worms belonging to the Phylum Annelida, Class Clitellata, Subclass Hirudinida. Leech classification is primarily based on the presence or absence of setae (bristles) and the morphology of the mouth, proboscis (feeding organ), jaws, and suckers. Leeches are thought to have evolved from certain oligochaete worms; however, the systematics and taxonomy of leeches are in need of review. Twenty-two species within five families (Erpobdellidae, Glossiphoniidae, Haemopidae, Hirudinidae, Piscicolidae) have been reported from northern Arkansas, but, as of 2018, there are no summaries of leeches from the southern part of the state. Leeches are bilaterally symmetrical, with thick muscular bodies. Usually, they are dorsoventrally flattened and segmented. Some leeches are long and worm-like (ranging in size from about seven …

Lice

Lice belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, Order Phthiraptera, with four suborders: Anoplura (sucking lice), occurring on mammals exclusively; Rhynchophthirina, parasites of elephants and warthogs; Ischnocera, which are mostly avian lice, though one family parasitizes mammals; and Amblycera, a primitive suborder of chewing lice, widespread on birds but also infesting South American and Australasian mammals. The chewing lice (suborders Rhynchophthirina, Ischnocera, and Amblycera) were previously combined in the order Mallophaga, which did not reflect natural grouping. There are nearly 5,000 described species of lice, with about 4,000 being parasitic on birds and 800 on mammals, within about twenty-six families of described species of phthriapterans. Many mammal species can be infested by sucking lice, including seals and walruses. These “marine …

Mammals

Arkansas’s assemblage of mammals contains both domesticated and wild species, as well as humans. The agriculture and pet industries within Arkansas are enhanced by domesticated mammals. Wild mammals can be grouped into two categories: game (species with hunting seasons) and non-game (species without hunting seasons). All mammals are classified into the class Mammalia. Mammals—along with birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles—belong to a large group known as the vertebrates (animals possessing a backbone). Mammals share common features with each other, including being homeothermic (constant internal body temperature), having hair, having mammary glands (milk-producing structures in females), and being able to give live birth. Some mammals found outside of Arkansas, such as dolphins and whales (order Cetacea), have very small amounts of …

Mantodea

aka: Mantids
aka: Mantises
Mantises belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, Class Insecta, and Order Mantodea. The order contains over 2,400 species within about 430 genera in fifteen families. The largest family is the cosmopolitan Mantidae. Mantises are distributed worldwide in mostly tropical but also temperate habitats. Little has been published on the mantises of Arkansas, although the Carolina mantid, Stagmomantis carolina, has been investigated in the central part of the state. In the fossil history of mantises, fossils of the group are rare. For example, by 2007, only about twenty-five fossil species were known. The earliest, from Siberia, are about 135 million years old. Fossil mantises, from Cretaceous amber, include a specimen from Japan with spines on the front legs, as in modern mantises. …