Ecology

KAEFS is sited on the rolling hills of the Permian Redbed region of Central Oklahoma. Mean annual temperature is 16oC with a January minimum of 3oC and a July maximum of 28oC. Mean annual precipitation is 96.7 cm (average from 1948 to 1999, Oklahoma Climatological Survey).  May is typically the wettest month (13.5 cm) and January is generally the driest (3 cm). KAEFS  is within the Washita River drainage basin, one of 25 gaged major drainages in Oklahoma. The Finn Creek watershed bisects the property. Soils of the area are primarily from the moderately fertile Nash-Lucien series, a mixture of loamy, mixed, thermic shallow Typic Haplustolls and coarse-silty, mixed, thermic Udic Haplustolls.

This area supports diverse vegetation dominated by grasslands on the slopes and hilltops and riparian woodlands around streams and creeks in the lowlands. The lower slope areas support tallgrass prairie dominated by Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass), and Panicum virgatum (switchgrass), while upland areas of slopes are covered by mixed grass vegetation such as Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama), B. gracilis (blue grama) and Buchloë dactyloides (buffalo grass). Riparian areas support a mixed, bottomland forest of Acer negundo (box elder), Populus deltoides (cottonwood), Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash), Cornus drummondi (dogwood), Gymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky coffee tree), Carya spp (hickory). and Juglans nigra (black walnut). Celtis spp. (hackberry) is common throughout the property. There are also scattered upland areas dominated by Quercus stellata (post oak) and Q. marilandica (blackjack oak) that are outliers of the Cross Timbers forest of central and eastern Oklahoma. Several regions of prairie in the western regions of KFFL are becoming dominated by Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar) due to fire suppression.

KAEFS supports a diverse fauna. Species seen at the station include deer (Odocoileus virginianus), coyotes (Canis latrans), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), skunks (Mephitis mephitis), armadillos (Dasypus novemcintus), bobcats (Lynx rufus), squirrels (Sciurus sp.), and cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus). A number of different reptiles live at KAEFS  including red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), three-toed box turtles, (Terrapene carolina triunguis), common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) up to 20 pounds, and snakes including rat snakes (Elaphe sp.), water moccasins (Agkistrodon piscivorus) and copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix). Different species of frogs and salamanders exist at KAEFS, but species identities are not known at this time.  As many as 15 fish species have been identified in the creek and ponds on the property. Many species of birds including turkeys, owls, hawks and vultures.  Horned toads (Phrynosoma  spp.) and jackrabbits (Lepus spp.) were once common at the property, but have not been observed in many years. Although not a frequent occurrence, there have been at least three mountain lion (Puma concolor) sightings at KAEFS, and we continue to try and obtain prints or photographs of this elusive visitor.