Archive for the 'Habitat' Category

Arundo: Donax, do Tell

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
Arundo Control Man

Arundo Control Man

This is Passport to Texas

A tall, non-native invasive grass, Arundo donax grows along creek and river beds and spreads quickly. It impairs native ecology, destabilizes and impedes bank access and increases flood and fire risks.

We’re really seeing that the source of this plant getting into our waterways seems to be construction activities, fill dirt placement, and mowing that pulls it down into our creeks.

Monica McGarrity is aquatic invasive species team leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Angela England also works on this team as a biologist. She says the agency’s launched a new Arundo awareness and prevention campaign developed in partnership with the Nueces River Authority, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the Texas Department of Transportation.

[In] this new program, we’ve geared a lot of the materials to folks in the construction industry and vegetation management. So, mowers, and folks running dozers, and so forth.

England says prevention and management begins with knowing the enemy.

We want everybody that’s in these industries to have a feel for what the plant is. We’ve got a training video; we’ve got materials that we can get to you on how to identify it. We want you to sound the alarm if you see it—and let your boss know: “Hey, it looks like there’s fragments of this bad stuff in the fill dirt that we just got. Maybe we should send it back.” And start hitting it before it gets into new places.

More on the Arundo donax campaign tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.

Arundo Donax–an Invasive Cane

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
Arundo donax, also called Giant Reed.

Arundo donax, also called Giant Reed.

This is Passport to Texas

Have you seen thickets of plants along roadsides that look like a cross between corn and bamboo? It’s called Arundo donax.

It’s a tall, tall, tall grass. It grows up to 30 feet tall.

Angela England is an aquatic invasive species biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. This giant grass thrives along creek and river beds. Growing up to two inches per day, Arundo outcompetes native plant communities.

After the Arundo moves in and forms a real thick area, we see almost no native plants growing there. And we really depend on those native plants to preserve the soil of those stream banks.

Arundo is also a glutton for water.

Arundo is so thirsty, it takes up a lot of water and evaporates it out to the sky. And so, downstream of thick infestations, we actually see less water in the river. And that’s really a problem for fish and other animals that require that water.

A growing partnership to fight infestations of Arundo in Texas. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cecilia Nasti.

What Happens When We Alter Habitat

Friday, April 27th, 2018
Endangered Jaguarundi

Endangered Jaguarundi

This is Passport to Texas

By altering his environment… man has also altered habitat…thereby unintentionally speeding the decline of some animal and plant species.

We’ve changed a lot of things around. And the fact is that our activities – direct and indirect – determine how much of the wildscape we’re going to have left in the future. Essentially, more humans doing more things, is going to mean less and less of the wild world.

Paul Robertson is former head of the Wildlife Diversity Nongame and Rare Species Program. He says when significant declines are noted, waning species end up on the threatened and endangered list.

Just short of two hundred animals and plants are listed as threatened or endangered.

The number he quoted is for Texas only.

Endangered is worse that threatened and threatened is worse than just being stable.

Robertson says, in Texas, species stability decreases as human use and misuse of water increases.

In Texas the immediate and biggest threat is the human use of water. We’re taking water out of streams; we’re pumping water out of aquifers… All these activities are lowering stream flows…drying up springs. So this, at the present time, is the biggest conflict between humans and native species.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Hunting Rabbits Around the Edges

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018
Staring down a bunny in Big Bend

Staring down a bunny in Big Bend

This is Passport to Texas

Expect success nearly every outing when rabbit hunting—especially when you hunt around the edges.

[Those are] Areas where people aren’t necessarily going to be conducting other activities.

Andy Gluesenkamp, Director of Conservation at San Antonio Zoo, and an avid rabbit hunter, says hunting rabbits provides a “walk in the woods” experience. But what about those edges?

You would look for fence lines along fallow fields, or old pasture, or berry patches and cactus patches….So, there’s less competition with other land use – like cattle grazing. Rabbit hunting usually won’t disturb cattle. Or, you’re not going to be competing with deer hunters who are going to be in another kind of habitat.

Ask landowners about hunting their property, or consider hunting on TPW’s public lands. Hunt rabbits year-round; however, the cooler months have their advantages.

It’s pleasant – getting back to that walking in the woods experience – also in summertime when it’s really dry, they can be a lot leaner. I prefer to eat them when they have a little bit of fat on them. If there’s green grass on the ground – that’s the perfect time to go rabbit hunting.

Rabbit as a tasty treat. That’s tomorrow.

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

Birds on the Move

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Some birds, like the golden-cheeked warbler are endangered because of habitat alteration.

This is Passport to Texas

According to a National Audubon Society report on birds and climate change, 314 of the 588 North American bird species studied will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says climate change is impacting these species. As the temperatures rise, birds move north. Another reason is habitat alteration.

The interesting thing is that probably four or five decades ago there was another pulse or movement of birds that might not have been related to climate change. And what some people have suggested is a lot of these birds are extending their range because of fire suppression where grasslands were probably a good barrier to a lot of these woodland birds. And now that we don’t have fires to maintain grass, we have trees encroaching. Things like mesquite, huisache and retama are increasing, and a lot of those South Texas birds are moving in response to that.

Some birds, like the golden-cheeked warbler, are already endangered because of habitat alteration. And if something’s not done to restore the habitat, many more birds could find themselves without a suitable home.

They’re specialized they need a very specific habitat and when that is whittled away, they’re not able to adapt to other environments.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.