Plant and Wildlife Inventories at the Red River Education and Research Park
As part of the long-term park management plan developed by the advisory committee, the ecosystem inventory is considered a critical component. In order for the Red River Education and Research Park to serve its function as a true "living laboratory" which will benefit the environmental programs of the City of Shreveport and the Red River watershed in general, it is essential to determine and catalog the baseline environmental conditions of the park, including its flora and fauna. Surveys to determine the species of plants, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, fish, birds, and benthic macroinvertebrates occurring at the park have been in progress since 2006. A globally rare plant species, Carex decomposita, which grows on stumps and floating logs, has been documented from the park as a result of this inventory. 318 species of plants have been documented at the park, 68 (21%) of which were exotics (2008 MacRoberts, M. H., B. R. MacRoberts, and G. M. Hanson. Vascular Flora of C. Bickham-Dickson/Red River Education and Research Park, Caddo Parish, Louisiana: An Oxbow Lake Community, with Comments on Exotic/Native Species Ratios. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 2(2): 1389-1406). Fish, mammal, bird, amphibian, and reptile species lists have been composed and are continuously updated. The area has become a bird hotspot, with 263 species of birds having been documented at the park. The fish community reflects the direct connection of the oxbow with the Red River and the origin of the oxbow from the Red River. The mammal, amphibian, and reptile communities consist of species that are common representatives of this Northwest Louisiana area. The vertebrate populations and the overall biodiversity seen at the park are reflective of the seasonal flooding that inundates the park and the historic and current usage of the park by humans. Continued studies are needed to supplement documentation of the species occurring at the park and monitor changes occurring as a result of new biotic perturbations.