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Ouachita Mountains Species and Habitats

Ouachita Mountains (Ecoregion 36)
Ouachita MountainsThe Ouachitas are made up of ridges, hills, and valleys formed by the erosion of folded and faulted Paleozoic sandstone, shale, and chert, known locally as novaculite. They are a continuation of the Appalachians, formed during the late Paleozoic Era when an ocean closed and continents collided, causing marine sediments to be folded, faulted, and thrust northward. The Ouachitas are structurally different from the Boston Mountains (38), more folded and rugged than the lithologically distinct Ozark Highlands (39), and physiographically unlike the Arkansas Valley (37), South Central Plains (35), and Mississippi Alluvial Plain (73).

Ouachita MountainsPotential natural vegetation is oak-hickory-pine forest; it contrasts with the oak-hickory forest that dominates Ecoregion 39 and the northern part of Ecoregion 38. Today, loblolly pine and shortleaf pine grow in a distinctive mix of thermic Ultisols and Inceptisols. Logging and recreation are major land uses, and pastureland and hayland are found in broader valleys.

Ouachita MountainsRegional water quality is influenced by lithology, soil composition, and land use activities. In most reaches, water quality is exceptional; typically, total phosphorus, turbidity, total suspended solids, and biological oxygen demand values are lower whereas dissolved oxygen levels are higher than in Ecoregions 35, 37, and 73. Water hardness varies by level IV ecoregion; Ecoregions 36d and 36e tend to have the lowest hardness values while progressively higher values occur in Ecoregions 36a, 36b, and 36c. Stream substrates are made up of gravel, cobbles, boulders, or bedrock; they contrast with the fine-grained substrates of lower gradient streams in Ecoregions 35 and 73. The fish community is dominated by sensitive species; minnows and sunfish along with darters and bass are common.


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Content provided by Woods et al. 2004.

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