Students road trip to the ‘Big Woods’ with naturalist

Entomology graduate students and naturalist John Acorn, the student-selected speaker at the Feb. 19 Entomology Seminar, made a road trip to the "Big Woods" near Brinkley to see the habitat where the report of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker originated.Big woods student trip 2010

The "Big Woods" of Arkansas is the corridor of bottomland hardwood forest along the lower White River and its tributaries Cache River and Bayou De View, the lower Arkansas River, and the Mississippi River near the mouths of the White and Arkansas Rivers. At approximately 500,000 acres, it is the largest block of forest remaining in the northern Mississippi Alluvial Valley or "Delta," but is only a small remnant of the original 8,000,000 acres of forest in the Arkansas Delta alone.

"This is mainly an ornithological investigation now, but if they find a bird, they'll need entomologists to figure out what it eats," Acorn said. "There are so many dimensions to ecological issues," he said, including social, historical and economic as well as aesthetic and scientific.

Acorn is a naturalist, lecturer at the University of Alberta, author and television personality. He said he talks about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in his course on Environmental and Conservation Science. His website is http://www.acornthenaturenut.net/.