Benefits of Multispecies Management on Private Lands

Not surprisingly, about 94% of Texas is privately owned—84% of that land is considered working lands (farm, range and timberland) making private landowners the stewards with the largest influence over natural resources compared to public lands. As we watch Texas experience the largest inter-generational change in landownership ever experienced, how landowners continue the legacy of land management is up to them, making education the first priority.

Long Acres Ranch: Demonstrating Native Grassland Restoration

At Long Acres Ranch in Richmond, TX, we are looking forward to the response of native grasses and forbs planted in a demonstration field in the spring of 2018. We would love to jump to the future and see the results of our 30-acre planting that is full of potential for a variety of life. Even so, we know we will have to wait. As the saying goes, native grasses seem to sleep the first year as they develop their root systems, they creep in the second year with a little more obvious growth, and if we are lucky with rainfall, they leap with growth in the third year. 

Sink, Swim, or Take the Higher Ground: Challenges Facing Rare Species Management in the Florida Keys

While the cause of sea-level rise is subject to intense debate, as wildlife professionals, we continue to analyze and best predict the extent to which rising sea levels will affect habitat of focal species. For species in the Keys, rising water will have significant impacts including shifts in vegetation and habitat dynamics.

Private Land Stewardship: Apps of the Trade

Given the preponderance of livestock and growing interest in wildlife management, it’s easy to understand why helping landowners and naturalists better identify and manage plants and animals on their property is essential for raising awareness of and improving open land in Texas. Find our growing list of recommended mobile apps here.

Using Mobile Apps to Assist in Grazing Management

Texas has over 142M acres of open lands (i.e., working lands) with the majority designated as grazing lands for various livestock. Texas leads the nation in sheep, goat and cattle production with over 94M head of cattle alone. Even with this strong representation, landowners often mix livestock production and wildlife management on the same property. Other landowners now primarily manage for wildlife on an additional 3.3M acres which helps maintain ecological functions of the state’s grasslands and forests. Given the preponderance of livestock and growing interest in wildlife management, it’s easy to understand why grazing management is essential for sustaining and improving open lands in Texas.

Private Land Stewardship: The Importance of Knowing Your Animals

It is important as a landowner to know which wildlife species frequent your property and how to alter your management practices in order to benefit those animals. Gaining a better understanding of common wildlife as well as species you may never encounter will not only make you a more informed wildlife enthusiast, it can provide you with a well-rounded approach to private land stewardship. Most landowners commonly observe generalist species like white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginanus) or raccoons (Procyon lotor) on their property, but among the ecoregions of Texas there is vast diversity in habitat that many species call home. 

Identifying and Documenting Species with iNaturalist: a great tool for private land stewards

There are many resources you can access to expand your knowledge of the species in your area, but few are more accessible than those on your phone. As citizen science continues to expand with the help of technology, apps are being developed with the sole purpose of helping amateur naturalists and landowners identify and better understand the plants and animals on their property.

Acoustic Monitoring: Redefining innovation on the prairie

If a prairie chicken clucks in the prairie and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Thanks to the innovative survey techniques deployed by the NRI research team of Dr. Brian Pierce, Frank Cartaya and Sarah Turner, we finally have our answer. Travel to eastern New Mexico with us in this week's blog as we track the team's progress while they conduct surveys using acoustic technology, which is 50 times more efficient than traditional methods for detecting the occurrence of the formerly ESA-listed Lesser Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicintus) on Melrose Air Force Range. This is what raising the bar for the standards of proactive wildlife management looks like.

Map of the Month: Two birds, one nest: Songbird management through cowbird trapping

Brown-headed cowbirds are obligate brood parasites, meaning they lay their eggs in the nests of other songbirds instead of building their own. Learn about trapping efforts to control this species in our Map of the Month and accompanying article.

Sorting Out Bobwhite Population Genetics

Wild quail face a long and varied list of challenges to their daily and long-term survival. While some perils are easily identified—a predator raiding a nest, a lack of vegetative cover for nesting, or a sweltering summer day—others, like diseases and parasites, are more subtle. Still others are even less tangible than that; to observe them, you have to dive into the gene pool. Genetic diversity is a topic not often addressed when discussing ways to help quail, but given its role in determining the fate of populations, perhaps it should garner more consideration.

Map of the Month: Freshwater Mussels: Key Indicators of Ecosystem Health

Freshwater mussels play an important role in the health of freshwater ecosystems by providing food and habitat for other aquatic species, stabilizing stream bottoms, and filtering the water in our lakes and rivers. The Rio Grande basin is home to three mussel species suffering from habitat loss and growing human populations in this area may be threatening the water systems necessary for their survival.

Private Land Stewardship Starts with Soils

Soils are the foundation of healthy habitat and can make or break any land management plan. Regional differences in soil structure and composition play a major role in determining which management strategies will succeed or fail, and familiarity with your soil is the first step toward meeting your land stewardship goals. Here we provide contacts and resources to help you take that step.

NRI Members Showcased Efforts at the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society Annual Meeting

The Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society (TCTWS) annual meeting is a time to present and discuss current research and recognize notable achievements in conservation leadership. NRI was well represented at this year's meeting by noteworthy scientific research presentations, employees who took on leadership roles within TCTWS, and extension outreach efforts.

Passing the Pen

After renowned wildlife illustrator Dr. Terry Maxwell unexpectedly passed away in April of 2017, the Texas Society of Mammologists was tasked with finding the next artist who would preserve the integrity of the society while honoring the tradition of Dr. Maxwell’s legacy. One young lady stood out in particular, a former student and family friend of Dr. Maxwell with immense artistic talent—Ms. Krysta Demere.

Map of the Month: Bright lights and big cities: urban growth in Texas

From scattered rural settlements to big cities, the density and distribution of people in Texas has changed dramatically over time. As "urban sprawl" continues to increase development in the outlying areas around cities, it will affect the resources, amenities, and job opportunities for the people who live there.

The Economic Value of Hunting

A lot of money changes hands when hunters pursue their passion, and in the state of Texas, those funds support rural economies, public resources, and even wildlife conservation. Quail hunting in particular is a significant economic stimulus. This article explains how that money makes its way all across the state and gets to the bottom line.

The Rolling Plains Research Ranch by The Texas Wildlife Association

The Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch is a 4,720-acre ranch in Fisher County, Texas that lies about 10 miles west of Roby off of US Highway 180. Speeding past on the highway the encyclopedia of knowledge that’s been garnered from the gently rolling hills is not obvious. Ultimately, the ranch’s aim is providing land managers and other stakeholders, with timely, relevant technology and management schemes for enhancing quail populations in the Rolling Plains of Texas. In doing so, the ranch hopes to sustain the “quail dynasty” that has supported hunters, ranchers, local economies, hunters and the quail themselves.

Mutual Relationships in the Wild: A fundamental trait of the Texas Herpetological Society

Drs. Ryberg and Hibbitts are two of Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute’s (NRI) research scientists whose work includes diagnosing and resolving complex problems in conservation biology with a focus on herpetology to be applied to natural resource management solutions. As with most scientists, their work derives from a passion to understand, to explore and to make an impact in their field. The work-life balance of a scientist is quickly translated to work-life integration where traces of their passion can be found out of the lab, acting as more of a fulfilling extension of their life.

The Origin of the Wild Pig Species

Nearly 160 years ago Charles Darwin published his “On the Origin of Species,” a work that would become the cornerstone of evolutionary biology. The book's 502 pages outlined the scientific theory of natural selection and species diversity through evolution across successive generations. If you’ve ever wondered where wild pigs (Sus scrofa) came from, why there are so many different names for them and how man has influenced nearly everything about them, well then what follows may be worth your minutes.

Texas Quail Index 2017 Summary

This year’s Texas Quail Index (TQI) featured 26 cooperators representing 7 of the 10 Texas ecoregions. TQI participants are asked to conduct a series of demonstrations which include listening for whistling roosters in the spring, setting out “dummy” (i.e., simulated) nests and game cameras to evaluate predator activity, examining quail habitat, and counting birds along roads. Read more to see the statewide results summarized.