JANUARY 18, 2006

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NSU professor joins Cornell research team as they rediscover ‘extinct’ woodpecker species


A noted field biologist, NSU professor Mia Revels was selected to join a Cornell Lab of Ornithology research team as they traveled to the 'Big Woods' area of Arkansas this past fall. The special team was charged with 'rediscovering' the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, a species of woodpecker once thought to be extinct.

For more than 60 years the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker of North America was thought to be extinct. But in 2004, thanks to the help of audio recordings and one actual sighting, researchers have found just enough evidence to prove that the world’s third largest woodpecker, though elusive, is very much alive.

This past December, Dr. Mia Revels, associate professor of biology at Northeastern State University, joined fellow members from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology research team as they ventured to the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge of Arkansas to uncover the mystery surrounding this species and its dwindling habitat.

Cornell has called upon the country’s most competent field biologists to assist them with the challenging research that lies ahead. Dr. Revel’s extensive experience with Swainson’s Warblers in southeastern Oklahoma made her an ideal candidate for project.

“In the world of science, this is a very big deal,” said Dr. Doug Penisten, Interim Dean of the NSU College of Science and Health Professions. “We are all very excited and proud for Dr. Revels and the well deserved recognition her selection signifies for her expertise in bird studies.”

Monitoring from elevated platforms, surveying by canoe and researching on foot the boggy, swampy abyss of the Arkansas’ Big Woods area, Dr. Revels and the research team have gathered important species information to aid efforts for its future survival.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to study this majestic species, and I look forward to contributing other information that can be used for its conservation.” said Dr. Revels.

Since the 1930s much of the habitat for North America’s largest woodpecker has vanished as these bottomland hardwood areas have been logged and converted to agricultural use or flooded to produce reservoirs.

Contact: Nancy Garber, NSU director of public relations, 918.456.5511, ext. 2885