Bayou-Diversity Kelby Ouchley, former manager of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, provides expert insight into the flora and fauna of Louisiana. Each week, he brings awareness of conservation ethics and education about what makes our area special — and worth preserving.


From KEDM Public Radio

Kelby Ouchley, former manager of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, provides expert insight into the flora and fauna of Louisiana. Each week, he brings awareness of conservation ethics and education about what makes our area special — and worth preserving.

Most Recent Episodes

Hurricane Laura & the D'Arbonne Swamp

During a period of four hours beginning at 10AM on Thursday, August 27,2020, the D'Arbonne Swamp changed for many decades. The change was aeolian in the form of Hurricane Laura. She was obstinate, eschewing the normal shape-shifting impotence that occurs upon landfall, and for the first time in recorded history still maintained a Category 1 status when she passed with the D'Arbonne Swamp 200 miles inland.

Senses of Thankgiving

Thank you, O Lord, in this bountiful season for the five senses to relish your world. Thank you for the succulent smells of the fruits of the earth in the kitchens of our mothers and wives. Thank you for the odor of rich delta dirt on a warm, foggy winter morning. Thank you for the smell of wood smoke, especially that tinted with lightered pine. Thank you for the stew of odors distinct to our rivers and bayous-cypress needles, primal water, mud and decay, life and life to be.

August Walk to The Wreck

Just after daybreak on this unreasonably cool, late August morning we walked to the Wreck, a hike that traversed two ecosystems, and witnessed a bit of magic. From our house on the edge of the Pleistocene terrace where the historical forest was a mix of upland hardwoods and pines, we descended into the bottomland hardwood forest of the Bayou D'Arbonne floodplain. The descent was only thirty feet, but for the biota it was as drastic as 3,000 feet on a Colorado mountain.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

There is obviously some truth in the old adage "out of sight, out of mind." Humans are a visual species with large areas of our brain dedicated to processive visual stimuli. Most of our knowledge concerning our surroundings is acquired through our eyes. We tend to deem matters that can't be clearly seen as low priority, and for a great many people, if a concern can't be observed directly or unambiguously, it apparently does not exist in their mind. Herein lies a problem as it relates to

Whirligig Beetles

A boyhood on the edge of Louisiana swamp is fraught with danger, some real but most imagined. An example of the latter occurred when as adolescents my neighborhood gang would gather at the White's Ferry Bridge to swim on hot, summer days. The event began as we jumped from the high bridge into Bayou D'Arbonne below. The older boys always warned us of an instant death that would befall us should we be so unfortunate to do a belly-buster from that height. Next in the line of perils was the alleged,

Hummingbirds and Spiders

Connections are a common theme on this program. We've talked about broad connections such as those linking clean water to healthy fish, wildlife, and human populations. Widespread education about more specific connections like the one between monarch butterflies and wild milkweeds have resulted in concerted efforts to benefit these species. Edification of the detrimental impacts of balloon releases on wildlife is another example of spreading the word about connections, negative ones in this case


Writing of the carnage at Vicksburg during the Civil War, a teenage girl living near what is now West Monroe made an interesting natural history observation. She stated: "...we hear from the best and most direct sources that the Yankee dead lie in heaps about our entrenchments; it is horrible to relate, sickening to think, but so curious a fact that I must note it down, all the vultures have left this country, a carcass may lie for days untouched, those creatures have gone eastward in search of

Human Impacts

On the surface, it doesn't seem possible. How can we catch all the fish in the seas? Analogies do exist. Bison were once the most numerous single species of large wild mammal on the planet. They blanketed the Great Plains of North America and were the life-blood of Plains Indian societies for thousands of years. During the 19th century, commercial hunters spurred on by government policies aimed at subduing Native Americans by eliminating their food supplies killed more than 50 million bison. The


During the Yazoo Pass expedition of the Civil War, Union Admiral Porter wrote that his flagship Cincinnati ran into a six-hundred-yard bed of willows under a full head of steam. "and there she stuck; the willow wythes ... held her as if in a vise." Taking advantage of the situation, Confederates pounded the flotilla with an artillery crossfire, and only with the greatest efforts was the Cincinnati freed to make her escape and end the failed expedition.

Signal Trees

In the last few years, GPS devices have become ubiquitous in our culture. Whether one is motoring the maze of big-city freeways or navigating a pirogue through the Atchafalaya Swamp, a GPS unit eliminates all excuses for becoming lost. From a historical perspective, this raises the question of how people navigated across wilderness landscapes 200 years before Garmin and Magellan. Without a doubt, such skills in Native Americans were almost innate because their lives depended on it. One of their