Conserving the Cowan’s Ford Biodiversity



DaggyWhat happened to the biodiversity that would potentially be lost after the flooding of Catawba River? 

daggy clippingModern Reedy Creek Conservation Center represents the conservation and preservation of local Catawba fauna. This extensive collection was largely in part due to the work performed by the late Dr. Tom Daggy (far left). Professor Tom Daggy started teaching at Davidson College in the biology department in 1947. As his career at the college continued, he became known within the department as the “last real biologist”. He knew the basis of various topics in biology, as opposed to specializing in one type of biological study as is common today. Daggy helped to establish the College’s arboretum (right), for which he served as Director for a year. Today, these trees are still labeled across the college campus and are preserved by Davidson College. (2)


He obtained roughly 18,000 plant species for the college’s herbarium and close to 86,000 types of beetles for his personal collection. After Tom Daggy’s death in 1996, a collection of around 12,000 plant species was donated by Davidson College to the herbarium collection at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). This work contains a collection of plants that were specific to growing in the area of the Catawba River Valley. 



Reedy clipping        Reedy Creek Biodiversity Center (right) officially displaced UNCC’s 40,000 piece herbarium in 2008. When UNCC decided to relocate the biology department into another building in 2005, they did not have room for their extensive herbarium and zoological collections. They thought they were Reedypicgoing to have to split up the artifacts and collections to multiple different venues across the U.S. However, Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation got involved and expressed interest in keeping the collections in storage until the Reedy biodiversity center was built. In addition to UNCC’s extensive herbarium, Reedy Creek maintained about 3,500 animal specimens when they opened in 2008 (left).





At the time in 1996, Jim Matthews (left), retired chairman of UNCC’s biology department, and Larry Mellichamp (right), seen through Daggy’s historical species compilation, this collection contained very valuable information on the history of the region that’s not accessible anywhere else. The plant and animal director of UNCC’s McMillan Greenhouse, and various other research shaped these faunal collections. Species taken prior to 1963 no longer grow in the valley after the flooding of this area for the creation of Lake Norman by Duke Power Co.

In this way, Davidson College (mainly via Dr. Daggy), UNCC Biology Department, and the Reedy Creek Center are accountable for the safeguarding and modern persistence of the local fauna that was native to the historical Catawba River Valley. For more in depth information and background on Conservation click here:




Cited Sources:

1. Davidson College Archives: Faculty folder- Tom, Daggy

2.Arboretum. Davidson College: Archives and Special Collections. 2014. <>

3. Google images search: Tom Daggy; Reedy Creek; Davidson Arboretum; Jim Matthews; Larry Mellichamp