Spring 2009 A publication of the Wildlife Division—Getting Texans Involved
The extreme southern tip of our great state is a tangle of brush and thorn that is often unappreciated. Lacking in artistic splendor or decorative allure, this area is rich in diversity and unique in biodiversity.
and change in the thornscrub
Brushlands. Thornscrub. Not charismatic or exotic-sounding names. Not anything that likely to send people running to call their travel agents. For birders and nature enthusiasts though, the South Texas Brushlands ecoregion does exactly that. Ecotourism brings millions of dollars per year into south Texas, and for some towns constitutes a significant factor in the local economy. Ironically, the section of the brushlands where ecotourists spend most of their time and money has lost a massive portion of its wildlife habitat to agriculture and development, and most of the little remaining habitat is critically threatened by man-made environmental challenges. As the tide of tourist dollars has made local communities aware of the value of the remaining fragments, government agencies and landowners have begun protecting and managing the last of the area’s native habitat, and even reversing the tide and expanding habitat through rehabilitation of once-cleared land.
and the South Texas brushland
It’s twilight. The bobcat sits in a frozen crouch, its back arched and body coiled like a tight spring, eyes and ears focused forward. It is watching silently, waiting for the rabbit to make a mistake.
Technical guidance in
South Texas is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the United States, home to over 1,100 plant species and 700 vertebrate species. Rich in a history of large sprawling cattle ranches such as the King, Kenedy, Piloncillo, East and many others, South Texas has been somewhat insulated from the numerous issues confronting wildlife and wildlife habitats. In fact, a recent publication from the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute about the importance of South Texas to wildlife conservation is appropriately titled the "The Last Great Habitat"- a very befitting moniker for this region.
A New Jewel
Among Texas State Parks
Just northwest of Brownsville’s city center lies a new state park, Resaca de la Palma. Acquired by Texas Parks and Wildlife in the 1970s, the land has a diverse history. The periodic flooding of the Rio Grande created resacas, or ox-bow lakes, that curved through south Texas brushlands. Sugar hackberry, black willow, retama, and zarza grew along the resaca while the Tamaulipan thorn-scrub remained dry and arid. Over time four main habitats developed at Resaca de la Palma State Park: sugar hackberry woodland, ebony-anacua woodland, Tamaulipan thorn-scrub, and grasslands.
in South Texas
On the surface, South Texas doesn’t seem like great place to be an amphibian-watcher. Cactus, drought and small wetlands that dry up regularly are pretty hard on animals with semi-permeable skin. In reality, South Texas is unlike anywhere else for frogs. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to 21 anuran (frog and toad) species, five of which are native to nowhere else in the United States. Many of these are remarkably adapted to the rigors of life in South Texas. The trick is to figure out when and where to find frogs in South Texas.
of the South Texas Plains
We sit quietly in the garden, content in the cool morning breeze watching the Mockingbirds and listening to Kiskadees welcome the dawn. Suddenly the sqawk of the Kiskadee is joined by a scolding chatter as the air around us hums to the sound of rapidly whirling wings. There, near the edge of the lantana bush is an emerald green glow supported on cinnamon wings barely visible in their rapid cycle.
in the South Texas Plains
The main objective of wildlife and habitat management is to create and maintain balanced, productive and healthy ecosystems. A productive ecosystem is the result of the harmonic interaction between its plant and animal communities, and its soil, water, air and sunlight. As large tracts of land across Texas continue to be fragmented to satisfy the needs of an ever growing human population the creativity of both landowners and natural resource managers is constantly challenged to create or adapt management plans to restore and maintain habitat fragments that support healthy wildlife populations (Wagner, 1997).
Cooperation and Concern
Pepito is flying free again. Not too long ago, he was laying on the side of the hiway, dehydrated and near death. Thanks to the cooperation and concern of wildlife rehabilitators, both in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and some distance away, Pepito was able to recover and join his kind in the skies over Mission.
The Back Porch
Water and wildlife in the marketplace
Texas contains nearly 200,000 miles of streams and rivers.
Did You Know?
Interesting information about The South Texas Brushland.
For Wildlife Posters and Hummingbird Wheels, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/shop for order form.