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March 27, 2014

Blackwater Preserve Field Trip: Pines, Ants and Pixie Moss

Nearly 20 members of the ODU community, including alumni, faculty members and graduate students, participated in a field trip to the university's Blackwater Ecological Preserve near Zuni, Va., on Friday, March 21, led by visiting scholar Mark Moffett and ODU botanist Lytton Musselman (see photos below).

National Geographic magazine has dubbed Moffett the "Indiana Jones of entomology;" he has traveled the world photographing and studying ants. Moffett, a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, had come to ODU on March 20 to deliver the annual Lytton J. Musselman Natural History Lecture. Encounters with ants and termites were part of the field trip experience, but Musselman, ODU's Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany, was along to assure that plants got their share of the attention.

As manager of the preserve, Musselman has championed the return of longleaf pines to the site after the species almost became extinct in eastern Virginia. The more than 300-acre preserve is part of the 1,000-acre Zuni Pine Barrens Natural Area.

Photos by Chuck Thomas