Feb. 3, 2021
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is hosting a monthly presentation on some of the latest conservation research with which it is involved titled, “Wild Science” for biologists, educators and the general public to enjoy.
Christopher Middaugh, research biologist for the AGFC’s Research Division, said the seminars will enable not only the public but partner agencies and even AGFC staff across the state to learn more about the many research projects with which the AGFC is engaged.
“The AGFC is constantly funding and participating in incredibly important work, but some of it may not be what you think of when you think of the agency,” Middaugh said. “Research on game species and their habitats gets highlighted often, but there is so much out there that field staff and biologists are involved in that may not receive the attention of those species. That work is just as vital to the AGFC’s mission. Webinars in this series will encompass both game and non-game topics to highlight the range of our biologists’ work.”
Middaugh says the idea for the seminars came from Matthew Warriner, assistant chief of the AGFC’s Wildlife Management Division, and the concept quickly gained steam with other divisions as well.
“He wanted something internal to showcase his division’s research and science-based management efforts,” Middaugh said. “But as we continued developing the idea, we knew it had a lot of value for master naturalists, teachers, researchers in other conservation organizations, and really anyone who might be interested in conservation.”
“A secondary benefit to the presentations is the opportunity for staff and other professionals in the conservation arena to better learn how they can collaborate or modify their own studies through the examples highlighted in the AGFC’s work,” Middaugh said.
This month’s topics, which are available to view at https://youtu.be/LfftCmGk-0Y, highlight two non-game species whose declines have shed light on very complex problems with impacts reaching much farther than what’s seen on the surface.
Allison Fowler’s “Monarch Conservation in Arkansas” and how this amazing butterfly species is signaling a call-to-arms to conserve valuable habitats for pollinator species throughout the nation. Fowler is the AGFC’s Wildlife Diversity Program coordinator who oversees many research projects through the agency’s State Wildlife Grants program to identify and benefit species of greatest conservation need in Arkansas.
The second presenter for February is AGFC Fisheries Biologist Jeff Quinn with “Houston, We’ve had a Problem,” which touches on the effects of dams on declining Leopard Darter populations in Arkansas. Quinn has worked with non-game and commercial aquatic species in Arkansas for more than 22 years with the AGFC and has led some fascinating research on many species, including American eel, many species of darter and other aquatic species people rarely get the chance to see.