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Partnership Benefits ANHC and LR Zoo

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Thursday, November 30, 2017

by Bill Holimon

Thanks to a reciprocally beneficial Cooperative Agreement, the Little Rock Zoo staff helps assist the ANHC Research and Stewardship sections with field and laboratory work and in turn ANHC staff provide guidance for future habitat creation and management on zoo property. This October, seven zoo staff members helped out at Warren Prairie Natural Area (WPNA).

In addition to enjoying an impromptu presentation on shortleaf pine ecology and conservation (see associated photo and article "Adaptations Help Illustrate the Importance of Biodiversity"), the zoo staff helped mark and tag cavity trees of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW, Picoides borealis). They painted white lines about 6 feet above the ground on pine trees housing RCW cavities to make them easier to find for management purposes, including preparation for prescribed burns in which the ANHC rakes around the base of cavity trees as an extra precaution and documenting RCW roosting and nesting locations.

Zoo staff nailed tree tags with unique numbers to the bottom of each tree and then gathered Geographical Position System (GPS) coordinates for each of those trees. Volunteers inscribed the metal tags with a number combination detailing the particular cavity tree cluster a tree is located within (a cluster includes all of the cavity trees within an RCW territory), as well as the specific tree number within that cluster (e.g., 12-2 is tree 2 in cluster 12).

The information from the tree tag and the associated GPS location will be entered into a database made accessible to ANHC staff, partners, and contractors to help document RCW roosting and nesting locations, as well as efficiently relaying information from one observer to another. This reduces the amount of field time spent finding a particular cavity tree or cluster of cavity trees. Time savers like this are essential because they increase our staff’s efficiency. The ANHC is a small state agency, but partners like the Little Rock Zoo help the ANHC’s small staff accomplish big things.

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