Species of Greatest Conservation Need
Texas is home to well over 1,300 plant and animal species known as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need.” These include federal- and state-listed species, as well as those that were never listed due to lack of information. As a recipient of one of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Conservation License Plate Grants, the Wildflower Center helped update conservation ranks for these species — which helps prioritize and improve conservation efforts moving forward.
Plant Conservationist Minnette Marr began reviewing ranks for 15 of these plant species during the winter of 2017-18, updating information about their known occurrences and considering such factors as species range, abundance and threats. She and Land Steward Dick Davis took several field trips to scout for populations of SGCN; in cases where imminent threats from construction or non-native pests exist, efforts were made to collect seeds from SGCN for the Center’s seed bank. Marr developed training materials for seed collecting in tandem with these efforts.
Marr says useful conservation data “involves monitoring known occurrences and scouting additional occurrences so that the numbers put into the ranking calculator are as current as possible.” The results will be incorporated into TPWD’s Texas Natural Diversity Database and increase knowledge of these imperiled populations. Greater understanding may help keep these species off endangered and threatened lists and can aid in collaborations with land owners and developers. When it comes to conservation, accurate data is power.