Bayou-Diversity

Monday at 9 a.m., Tuesday at 6:45 a.m. and Thursday at 1 p.m.

Kelby Ouchley, former manager of Black Bayou Lake and other area National Wildlife Refuges, provides expert insight into the flora and fauna of Louisiana. Each week, he brings awareness of conservation ethics and education about what makes our area special -- and worth preserving.

Archived editions of Bayou-Diversity (December 2014 and older) can be found here.

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780 different kinds of trees have reportedly been identified on a single 25-acre plot of Malaysian rainforest.  While not quite in this league, a similar size tract on Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Monroe can boast 125 species of trees and shrubs.  Not long ago the site was a hundred year old cotton field.

  

Until the middle of the 20th century, few people in the South escaped an occasional medicinal dosing of a chemical derived by intentionally injuring native pine trees.  The chemical was turpentine and its uses were legion.  Turpentine was derived from the resinous gums of pines, most often longleaf pine, also known as pitch pine, wherever it occurred.  This resin contains the volatile hydrocarbon terpene. 

Standing on the bank of the Tensas River more than thirty years ago, deep within a swamp bearing the same Native American name, I could hear the hollow peals of a plantation bell - at least in my imagination.  With no human habitation for miles on this subtropical summer day, there wasn't much chance of it happening in real time.  But a century and a half earlier the scenario was likely.

  

Gray Fox

Feb 29, 2016

When people experience intense emotions such as fright or awe, they often remark that they feel their hair standing on end.  Startling night sounds that emit from our local forest lands are sometimes a source of these involuntary chill bumps.  Owls, especially barred owls with their wild screams and hoots, have sent many a novice outdoorsman packing.  There is one species of local mammal though that can hold his own with owls when it comes to nocturnal caterwauling.  

President Theodore Roosevelt was frustrated when he arrived in East Carroll Parish in October 1907.  An avid hunter, he had long desired to kill a black bear on a traditional southern hunt with baying hounds and moss-draped swamps as a backdrop.  His first effort in Sharkey County, Mississippi five years earlier had been unsuccessful except for spawning the iconic Teddy Bear stuffed toys when he refused to shoot a young bear that had been tied to a tree by his hunting guide.  

Ecotone

Jan 18, 2016

The term "ecotone" can be defined as a transition area between two adjacent ecological communities.  It usually has some common characteristics of each bordering community and often contains species not found in either of the two.  Ecotones exist at different scales.  It may be the edge of your back yard where it butts up against a bayou or patch of woods.  It can be a 20-mile wide strip that separates the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains from the Great Plains or the northern evergreen forests from the tundra.

  

Misused Biology Terms

Jan 11, 2016

If there was such a thing as word police to enforce the correct use of biological terms, jails would be full of repeat offenders.  None of the violations rank as felonies, but misdemeanors are rampant.  Here are a few examples.

  

Louisiana Bison

Jan 4, 2016

The image of thundering herds of buffalo racing across endless prairies is not one that is often associated with Louisiana, the Bayou State.  Historically, though, the scene is not far-fetched.  The animals we call buffalo are more correctly termed bison to separate them from true buffalo of Africa and Asia.  Early French explorers in Louisiana called them boeuf sauvage - wild ox.  

Christmas Bird Count

Dec 28, 2015

On Christmas Day 1900, twenty-seven conservationists in New York decided to protest a traditional holiday bird shoot in which teams competed to see who could kill the most birds and other animals in one day.  Instead of shooting the birds, the protesters counted them and unknowingly established an event that has become known as the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

  

Thank you, O Lord, in this bountiful season for the five senses to relish your world.  Thank you for the succulent smells of the fruits of the earth in the kitchens of our mothers and wives.  Thank you for the odor of rich delta dirt on a warm, foggy, winter morning.  Thank you for the smell of wood smoke; especially that tinted with lightered pine.  

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