Endangered Species Conservation Grants Awarded
The Wildflower Center has awarded grants totaling $637,860 to eight organizations doing work to benefit the black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, Navasota ladies’ tresses, Texas prairie dawn and Tobusch fishhook cactus. The eight grants were awarded in November 2012 for one year of conservation research or projects to set aside habitat for these federally endangered species. The recipients were chosen out of 16 submitted proposals. Wildflower Center and outside experts chose the following projects for their benefit to these endangered Texas plant and animal species:
- $39,478: Rich Kostecke, The Nature Conservancy and colleagues will count male and female vireos during their breeding season at multiple locations in Val Verde County. The surveys at Dolan Falls Preserve and other conservancy-affiliated land along the upper Devils River will improve statewide statistics on the vireo. Studies will also be done to determine whether vegetation changes on this land over time shift the bird’s habitat.
- $136,434: Jim Nosler, Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, to help purchase 60 acres of habitat in Burnet County adjacent to refuge land. Friends of Balcones would partner on the acquisition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which would manage the warbler’s nesting habitat on the property. The purchased land will help buffer the refuge from a nearby subdivision and help protect the Lower Colorado River watershed.
Navasota Ladies’ Tresses
- $215,570: Dr. Fred Smeins and Dr. William Rogers, Texas Agrilife Research, to use computers to develop region-wide predictive models to identify critical areas of the native plant’s habitat that may be threatened. They will also work 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 will study how much genetic variability occurs and how widely it is distributed within and between Navasota ladies’ tresses populations throughout its geographic range.
Texas Prairie Dawn
- $78,000. Mary Ann Piacentini, the Katy Prairie Conservancy and colleagues will develop a conservation easement to permanently protect 511 acres of the plant’s habitat in western Harris County. They will also survey 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 will also be evaluated.
- $24,452. Anita Tiller, Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens and colleagues will collect seeds in the wild and review the 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 will also be developed to manage and reintroduce the wildflower into a new Harris County preserve.
Tobusch Fishhook Cactus
- 1$30,985. Charlotte Reemts, The Nature Conservancy, will 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. Dr. Joytsna Sharma, Texas Tech University, will study the genetic composition of Tobusch fishhook cacti in eight Texas counties to determine whether two different subspecies of the cacti can be identified, whether the two subspecies share habitat if so, and whether one is less susceptible to the deadly Tobusch weevil.
- $68,971: Dr. Brenda Molano-Flores, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois and colleagues will 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. In addition, the likelihood that these species will go extinct will be evaluated using data on factors such as the percentage of their habitat projected to experience climate change-related changes in temperature and rainfall.
An additional 10 percent of the funds will be retained by the Wildflower Center for grant administration and to support on-site programs to conserve rare and endangered species.