In 2013-14, the Wildflower Center administered a competitive award program in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to benefit five endangered species (Black-capped vireo, Navasota ladies’ tresses, Texas prairie dawn and Tobusch fishhook cactus). To date, seven organizations have received awards totalling $501,426 for conservation research and aquisition of habitat for these federally endangered species.
Black-capped Vireo$39,478 to Rich Kostecke of The Nature Conservancy to count male and female vireos during their breeding season at multiple locations in Val Verde County. Bird surveys conducted at Dolan Falls Preserve and other conservancy-affiliated land along the upper Devils River will improve statewide statistics on the vireo. Studies to determine whether vegetation changes on this land over time shift the bird’s habitat are being performed.
Navasota Ladies Tresses$215,570 to Dr. Fred Smeins and Dr. William Rogers of Texas Agrilife Research to develop computer-based region-wide predictive models to identify critical areas of the native plant’s habitat that may be threatened. They are working with local, federal and state agencies, landowners and a wide-variety of stakeholders to create a “Conservation Corridor” management plan for threatened and fragmented Navasota ladies’ tresses populations. In addition, they are studying genetic variation within and between Navasota ladies’ tresses populations throughout its geographic range.
Texas Prairie Dawn$78,000 to Mary Ann Piacentini and the Katy Prairie Conservancy to develop a conservation easement to permanently protect 511 acres of the plant’s habitat in western Harris County. They are surveying existing populations of Texas prairie dawn, which are primarily threatened by Houston-area growth. The response of this member of the aster family to various management techniques implemented with the funding is also being evaluated.
$24,452 to Anita Tiller and the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens to collect seeds in the wild and review records and viability of seeds already banked at Mercer of Texas of prairie dawn and associated rare plant species found in East Texas. A plan is being developed to manage and reintroduce the wildflower into a new Harris County preserve.
Tobusch Fishhook Cactus$130,985 to Charlotte Reemts and The Nature Conservancy to study whether Tobusch fishhook cactus populations in Bandera and Real counties benefit from partial or full shade provided by nearby shrubs in terms of improved flowering or production of fruits.
$43,968 to Dr. Joytsna Sharma and Texas Tech University to study the genetic composition of Tobusch fishhook cacti in eight Texas counties. The research sets out to determine whether two different subspecies of the cacti can be identified using DNA markers, whether the two subspecies share habitat and whether one species is less susceptible to the deadly Tobusch weevil.
$68,971 to Dr. Brenda Molano-Flores and the University of Illinois to conduct interviews and use published and unpublished data to develop an index to assess how vulnerable Tobush Fishhook Cactus and other endangered plant species are to climate change. The likelihood that these species will go extinct is being evaluated using data on factors such as the percentage of their habitat projected to experience climate change-related changes in temperature and rainfall.