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Category: Blog

Angling for Answers

When Chris Middaugh wades into a stream with his fishing pole and catches a smallmouth bass, it’s usually not for sport. It’s for science. Chris, a doctoral student in the Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in the Department of Biological Sciences, is studying the potential effects of climate change on smallmouth bass in Arkansas. “Specifically, I’m looking at how differing flow- and temperature-related conditions across stream types could affect smallmouth bass body condition and diet,” said Middaugh, who spent the last two summers collecting and measuring the fish in rivers and streams in the Natural State’s Ozark...

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Studying the Stutter-Steppers

The Attwater’s prairie chicken was in the news recently. Its population in Texas has dropped to alarmingly low levels, reflecting a downward trend of prairie chicken numbers across the central United States. Here’s video of the male Attwater’s prairie chicken’s courtship display, recorded by the Houston Zoo. Reading an article in The New York Times about the Attwater’s prairie chicken reminded me of a University of Arkansas connection to the wild bird. Some background: In Illinois, an estimated 14 million greater-prairie chickens were stutter-stepping on their display grounds in the 1800s. By the end of the 20th century, their numbers...

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Slippery When Caught

Catching stream salamanders can be a slippery proposition. “It can be like holding on to a bag of snot with muscle,” said Jackie Guzy, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences. “They have slick skin, powerful legs and a thick tail.” Guzy has become quite familiar with these amphibians over the past couple of years. Guzy’s field research in southwest Arkansas focuses on two stream-associated salamanders, the Ouachita dusky salamander (Desmognathus brimleyorum, seen in the main image above) and the many-ribbed salamander (Eurycea multiplicata). She is also examining overall patterns of species richness and diversity across five...

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What Trees Can Tell Us About the Amazon

Weather in the Amazon has been a little crazy lately. Two of the most severe droughts in a century of weather record keeping in the area happened in 2005 and 2010, while western Amazonia had record flooding in 2012. Maybe wild weather swings are a frequent occurrence in the most biodiverse place on earth, maybe not. Right now there’s no way to tell, because the climate records only go back about 100 years. David Stahle, a distinguished professor in the U of A’s Department of Geosciences, wants to change that by studying trees there. Stahle and co-researcher Song Feng,...

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Audio Delight

With the click of a mouse, Mary Celestia Parler’s voice filled the Helen Robson Walton Reading Room at Mullins Library. “The next, [song] is ‘Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees,’” Parler said on the recording initially made on one of the reel-to-reel recorders that she used to collect folksongs for the Arkansas Folklore Project. Parler made the recording at a party in 1952 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Weare in DeVall’s Bluff, Arkansas. It is included in the Ozark Folksong Collection, the largest and most complete collection of traditional music and associated materials from Arkansas and the Ozarks...

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