Wetland and aquatic plants of Oklahoma

If you do any environmental work with kids you will eventually be drawn to the water’s edge – or get deeper into it!   All of us who do this need to know the basic aquatic plants.  This site will help you in two ways.

First, it has the easiest key you will ever find.  You use pictures, photographs and short descriptions, not the detailed descriptions in Latin that we had to learn for Waterfall’s book back in the day.  Granted, these keys might not take you down to the most specific level but they can give you an answer in less than a minute to “what plant is that?”.   This is one reason to (carefully!) take that laptop into the field.

Second, it provides great photographs to many of the plants, but not all.  Did I mention that this is a work in progress?

Third, there are range maps for most of these plants.  I know, I said there were two reasons so think of the range maps as a bonus.

Add this to the bookmarks of your smartphone or tablet:  http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/wetland/wetland_interactive.html

Birds of Oklahoma

Didya know that the GSO (Great State of Oklahoma) is only second in the nation (to Texas) in species of birds?  Birding is a fast-growing hobby here and it attracts visitors from all over.  We have so many different ecological areas packed into a small state – from the deserts of Black Mesa to the Coastal Plains of McCurtain County, Oklahoma is one of the richest states in terms of species diversity!

Here is a nifty site with superb pictures of birds found in Oklahoma.  Besides the great, detailed pictures you will find most of them have a few paragraphs about the natural history of that bird.  The site also has a checklist for Oklahoma birds, a link to Oklahoma Butterflies, Oklahoma Dragonflies, Oklahoma Gardening and more.  http://www.birdsofoklahoma.net/

Mammals of Texas

Alas, there is no “Mammals of Oklahoma” – – not yet.  However, this book is a classic resource and has been for fifty years.  It has full descriptions of all of the mammals of Texas, with range maps.  The maps can give a pretty good suggestion of where they might be in Oklahoma, like the Porcupine (above).  The entire book is posted online, or you can order it online.  It’s not very expensive and would be an excellent library resource for southern or western Oklahoma schools.  http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/

Reptiles and Amphibians of Oklahoma

This is simply a checklist of the over 150 species of herps (reptiles and amphibians) found in Oklahoma.  It would be easy enough for me to copy and paste it, but that would not be proper use of Greg Sievert’s exhaustive research.  He is considered an authority in Oklahomoa herpetology.  http://academic.emporia.edu/sievertg/okherps.htm 

If you want more information get a copy of Reptiles of Oklahoma.  It is not expensive and it even has range maps, by county, for each species!   http://www.oksnakes.org/

Vegetation Maps of Oklahoma

There are several maps of where in the state the vegetation types are, or historically were.  The classic study is the map of 15 different kinds of vegetation.  A smaller copy appears above, and a link to the image is below.  Remember – when it comes to images, link, don’t lift!   http://www.okatlas.org/okatlas/biotic/vegetation/duckfletcher.htm

A more simplified (12 vegetation types) but more clear map, in pdf format is at http://www.forestry.ok.gov/Websites/forestry/Images/Ecoregions.pdf

There are other maps on this blog – geology, etc.  Just search to see what you find that you can use in your classroom!


Plants of Oklahoma Image Gallery

From the Noble Foundation in Ardmore comes this premier collection of plant images. and information.  Over 600 plant species are shown, with detailed, high-quality close-ups of the flowers, leaves, etc.  With each plant you get a number of photos and detailed information about it, including when it flowers.

This is a superb reference site for 4H, FFA, Boy and Girl Scouts, and any other teaching situation where you need to show any of the common (or rarer) plants of Oklahoma.   Indexed and referenced.

http://www.noble.org/apps/plantimagegallery/ and note that this is the new address.  If you have been using an old address you need to change your bookmarks.

Online Insect Collections, Oklahoma

Why on earth would you want to look a pix of insects?  Other than they are cool, they are almost robotic, kids love ’em, they are easy to keep in the classroom, and here comes the biggie – somebody at your school is doing 4H and insect study in 4H is HUGE!  There are local and state contests.  There are scholarships for those who want to take it further.

Back to 4H – if your school has a five-star 4H program they could probably use your help.  If there is no program at all, considering volunteering to put one in.  Tread lightly though, as this is a big, BIG undertaking.  For now let’s get back to insects.   How you use insects in the classroom is up to you but the important thing is to somehow use them.   We will get some specific lessons on the blog later.  In the meantime, here are some collections you can use:

http://www.ento.okstate.edu/4H-FFA/ is THE go-to collection specific to Oklahoma, used by th older 4H students to help them prepare for the local and state entomology contests.  Similar to that is a series of powerpoints you can use to teach the insects required for that contest at http://entoplp.okstate.edu/4H-FFA/ppt/guides.html

For butterflies only you should try http://www.thebutterflysite.com/oklahoma-butterflies.shtml   Here you will find a list of the Oklahoma butterflies, with images, detailed information, and range maps.

I will keep posting information about Oklahoma natural history – birds, mammals, snakes, flower, geology, and so forth.  Just use the Search button for “Oklahoma” (or “Texas” and let me know if you find anything we should include.