Archive for the 'Conservation' Category

Wildflowers for Truth and Beauty

Friday, March 24th, 2017
Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will soon  be awash in colorful wildflowers. Dr. Damon Waitt, director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, formerly of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, says these and other native plants have a place in the natural and built landscapes.

Natives provide really important ecosystem services for local wildlife, pollinators.

They filter storm water and rainwater, so they provide all these services to the ecosystem, and they can provide similar services in the built landscape, and reduce things like water use, pesticide use and fertilizer use.

In addition, they have the aesthetic qualities that we want people to learn to appreciate, so they’re not looking for that next exotic ornamental—that they ‘re more interested in finding that next native plant that looks great and functions perfectly in their environment.

There are a lot of people who might look at wildflowers and native plants and say, gosh, how do those fit into my idea of a formal landscape.

That’s something we’re really trying to fight—that concept that if you’re a native plant enthusiast, then your yard must look wild and unkempt. At the wildflower center, we model different design styles using native plants, and you can use native plants in very high designs and very formal designs if that’s the look you’re going for.

Find plants that are right for you at wildflower.org.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

NOTE: Due to the rain and warm weather, spring wildflowers started popping out about a month earlier than usual. So get out there soon to enjoy them before they’re gone.

Plight of the Bumblebee

Friday, March 10th, 2017
American bumble bee (left) and eastern carpenter bee (right). Courtesy of Jessica Womack.

American bumble bee (left) and eastern carpenter bee (right). Courtesy of Jessica Womack.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas has nine native bumblebee species. Loss of habitat to agriculture, use of pesticides, as well as European honeybees competing for food, threatens these important pollinators.

And so if we have a reduction in bumblebees, that spells trouble for our ecosystems.

Michael Warriner, an invertebrate biologist, says because Texas bumblebees have evolved with native flora as pollinators, fewer native bees would eventually translate to fewer native plants, which would impact other living things…

The birds and the mammals and other insects that depend on plants for fruit, or seeds, or just the functioning ecosystem.

While we give non-native European honeybees credit for pollinating our food crops, in some instances, bumblebees outperform them.

14—Bumblebees, although they aren’t talked about a lot as important pollinators, they’re much better and more efficient than honeybees. They’re the best pollinators for things like tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries, melons, and those sorts of crops.

You can find more bumblebee on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

11—And if you’re interested in being a bumblebee watcher, check out the website, and if you see any bumblebees in your garden, just send in photos. We’re really trying to learn how bumblebees are doing.

That’s our show for today…the Wildlife Restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Threats to Texas Bumblebees

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Texas Bumblebee, photo Jessica Womack

Texas Bumblebee, photo Jessica Womack

This is Passport to Texas

We all know about colony collapse disorder whereby colonies of European honeybees seem to vanish.

Less well known are the threats facing a lot of our native bumblebees.

Michael Warriner is an invertebrate biologist with a soft spot for native bumblebees. Like other native wildlife species in Texas, habitat loss is taking its toll on native bumblebees.

Bumblebees need open, flower-rich habitat—like grasslands. And, a lot of that habitat’s been converted to agriculture.

Warriner says pesticide use is another concern, but the threats to these big black and yellow insects doesn’t stop there.

And also, there’s been the importation of bumblebees from Europe into this country which has brought in parasites and diseases that may be impacting them. So, there’s a lot of concern how they’re faring in North America.

One of the threats to Texas bumblebees might actually be honeybees, which have colonies in the tens of thousands compared to the hundreds of insects in a bumblebee colony.

Honeybees have these tens of thousands of workers, and so they can go out and monopolize a flower resource—like nectar or pollen—and that reduces what’s available for our native bees. And there’s some research that suggests that the presence of honeybees in natural sites can reduce native bees.

We’ll have the potential impact from bumblebee decline tomorrow.

That’s our show for today…The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW TV – Guzzlers for Wildlife

Friday, March 3rd, 2017
Guzzler on the Black Gasp Wildlife Management Area

Guzzler on the Black Gasp Wildlife Management Area

This is Passport to Texas

A guzzler is a rain catchment device. Collected rainwater gets funneled into a tank that feeds a water trough for wildlife.

As we all know, animals need water. Our annual rainfall is only around 11 inches a year. So we’re trying to supplement that water during dry periods.

Travis Smith is a biologist at the Black Gap Wildlife management area in Brewster County. So is Will Rhodes.

We’re in southern Brewster County which is in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas.

They build and maintain guzzlers on the Gap—45 so far—and see to the needs of wildlife on the management area.

We’re in the Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem. The area is 103,000 acres or a little over. Black Gap is kind of in the middle of nowhere.

Next week the men explain and demonstrate guzzlers on a segment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

So this catchment consist of R-Panel in 12 foot lengths, which is connected to these 6 inch C-Purlins by…

Let’s stop there. Will’s going to tell us about purlins and pitch threads and storage tanks; it’s not sexy stuff. But it’s necessary when building guzzlers at Black Gap. And, so are wildlife cameras.

On these game cameras it’s triggered by motion. Usually that’s going to be wildlife coming in to get water from the guzzlers here.

Which means their efforts are successful. See the segment on Guzzlers next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series on PBS. The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Assisted Living: Attwater’s Prairie Chickens

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
Baby Attwater's Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

Baby Attwater’s Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

This is Passport to Texas

We all need help sometimes. And in the case of the endangered Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, they’re getting it in the form of captive breeding programs, including one at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose.

Adding birds from the captive breeding program has allowed us to keep birds in the wild. Without the captive breeding program this species, undoubtedly, would have been extinct by now.

Biologists estimate there are fewer than 100 Attwater’s Prairie Chickens in existence today. Mike Morrow is a wildlife biologist at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake. The juvenile prairie chickens at Fossil rim are color banded and radio collared in preparation for release onto the refuge.

How many other species can we watch go extinct, before it starts making a difference the ability of the world to support us as a human species.

Juvenile birds take a long ride to the refuge and are kept in an outdoor enclosure until they’ve acclimated to their new habitat. After two weeks in their pen, they’re released onto the refuge.

Biologist Morrow says he knows not all the birds they release will survive, but those that do, represent the future. He says Texas Parks and Wildlife and partners will continue to build the population with wild birds. And that’s where he says we place the hope for the recovery of the species.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.