Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Great minds...

... think I'm a moron.

But every now and then I have a thought.  I've taken to reading a few "species" per evening in Oaks of North America by Miller & Lamb.  Sometimes I even finish a page or two before falling asleep in mid-sentence and dropping the book on my face.  Not because it's not interesting - could there be a more fascinating topic? - but because I'm getting old and tired... and was probably up at the crack of dawn with an infant.

Whenever I see an oak with a range that looks like it was shot from a poorly patterned shotgun I think: That "species" must have occupied a much larger contiguous range at one point, and is now in steep decline.

Arkansas oak (Q. arkansana Sarg.) is one such oak.  This range map shows it spanning seven states, but according to Oaks of North America the range consists of a four county clump in Arkansas and one county pin pricks in Louisiana, Alabama (5 dots), Georgia (2 dots) and Florida (3 dots).  Miller writes: "Arkansas oak is believed to be a relic of an ancient population which at some time in the past occurred over a much wider range than at present."  This site lists it as a threatened species.  Interestingly the site says, "Fewer than five localities of this woodland species are known to exist."  It then lists seven states in which it occurs; some of them are adjacent so conceivably some stands of Arkansas oaks stradle state lines.

We're watching momentous changes in forest composition, right before our eyes.  Sad, but utterly remarkable at the same time. 

Hey southern guys & gals, has anyone ever seen an Arkansas oak?  Can someone get acorns?

No comments:

Post a Comment