11 de enero de 2021

Goals and Purpose of Extensive Ecological Assessments

In October I finished the bulk of an ecological assessment on an Eastern Cross Timbers remnant here in Denton County, TX that I’ve just uploaded in my iNat journal. I thought I’d share (via copy and paste) the essay I cobbled together on my goals and purpose in doing such extensive assessments of biodiversity in temporary remnants:

On my recent post of the ecological assessment for a site near my house (I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already), my friend Sebastian Tabibi asked about what the assessment was for, and if I was just doing it to catalogue species or if I was working with a larger group/collective.

This, I thought, would be great to share in a post of its own, which will certainly get much more exposure:

At present, I’m not doing any of these surveys or assessments as part of a larger operation, though it would be great to be able to do that in the future.

There are several overall goals that I have for these extensive and intensive assessments, and they all blend into one another, so it’s hard to point out a few set ones.

I can say for certain that without the help of being able to catalogue species and organize them into projects by place, etc. I wouldn’t be close to where I’m at now. When I started using iNaturalist, my goal in mind was just to have a record of the things I find since I like cataloguing things and being able to look back at them. This quickly evolved into wanting to find as many species as I could in particular areas, be it a new species altogether that I hadn’t seen before, one I hadn’t observed within a city, in a particular county, or otherwise.

This leads me to my first goal with these assessments: cataloguing the biodiversity of the region at every level possible and by any means that I am able to. This with both other naturalists that I may inspire in mind (just as Edwin Bridges inspired me to do these assessments), and with larger organizations or collectives in mind that will see use in my work. By cataloguing the species present I’m able to record new county records, up the level of valuable observations for the biodiversity of the area, and all around enhance both my and the community’s understanding of our local flora and habitats.

My second goal: “practice makes perfect”.
Many of these sites I pour time into surveying/cataloguing/assessing are small plots of land in the grand scheme of things, most of which on forgotten property owned by housing or construction companies, that will eventually be destroyed. Some may see the work as pointless as there will seemingly be no use for putting all this time into recording these things that will be gone within the next decade or so to become a new bleak realtors’ office, shitty HOA-ridden housing development, or similar malignant growth. However, by me starting now and continuing to do these surveys and comprehensive assessments of the ecology in as many aspects as possible, I gain a massive amount of in-person experience. This experience not only strengthens my understanding of the flora and ecology, but allows me to practice putting the information together into these maps, presentations, lists, and other formats, which will be extremely advantageous for me later on in my career path. I’m a very firm believer that completely restricting yourself to a single natural science is the wrong way to go about things. Having a main focus is definitely something important, as I have a main focus in botany, but as I continue to learn more I see the benefits and absolute necessity of knowing how natural systems influence each other. The smartest people I know are those that combine their understandings of botany with those of general natural history, ecology, geology, and the like, and are able to make connections between those. Every natural system on the planet is interconnected and so for a botanist to only focus on pressed herbarium specimens for their entire career without understanding ecological contexts and the many nuances related to how lifeforms may express themselves or interact with others in habitat vs on a sheet of paper, I see little use.

The third, and perhaps main, overarching goal: spreading conservation awareness. In putting these together in FB posts, and engaging with like-minded people through sharing this information, I’m further spreading the (what should be) very apparent need for this kind of work. As we continue to lose natural habitats everyday thanks to the consequences of exponentially progressing selfish anthropic practices, there becomes an ever-increasing need to know just how much we have lost in order for many people to truly realize the scale of the damage that has been done and will continue to be done should things stagnate or worsen. Furthermore, in a state like Texas with such a massive amount of private land and so little public-owned the ability to do such important work is even more difficult.

There are 169 plant species that I’ve documented at just that small site by walking 40 minutes there and 40 back (with a car the trip is only 7 minutes) every other week or so for the past 5 months in order to go record them. One of which is critically endangered in TX with less than 60 known occurrences in the 3 states it occurs, and was previously unknown from this county altogether. This in a site which is driven past in a mere 13 seconds by several thousands of cars everyday along I-35.

The most attention that so many of these sites will ever get by the public is the “what are they building over there now?” when the site is inevitably bulldozed.

Publicado el enero 11, 2021 08:44 MAÑANA por aidancampos aidancampos | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

ACTXDEA4 Ecological Assessment - Eastern Cross Timbers Remnant

A work-in-progress ecological assessment of a 16.78 hectare (41.48 acre) Eastern Cross Timbers mosaic residing just under 8km west of the western Blackland Prairie boundary in the area, and adjacent to I-35E.

The site is largely open Prosopis-Schizachyrium-Bothriochloa-Iva savanna with areas of dense undergrowth at the ecotonal areas occurring near the south and southeast of the site as it transitions to denser woodlands of Juniperus virginiana, Diospyros virginiana, and Ulmus crassifolia.

A few small depressions at the extreme SE of the site along the drainage of the stream that cuts through the southern half are home to diverse communities of Carex tetrastachya, Typha domingensis, Juncus marginatus, and Limnosciadium pinnatum.

Drier and open upland savanna areas on the eastern half of the site are home to a newly discovered, healthy population of the G2-Imperiled Ipomoea shumardiana as well as the rare (but secure) Chenopodium pallescens.

Soils at the site are ferruginous clay loams with some areas of sandy loam all derived from The Woodbine Formation, and make for a flat topography with relief of around just 10m.

Here’s the species list for the site after just 5 months of assessment every few weeks:

  1. Acaciella angustissima
  2. Achillea millefolium
  3. Acmispon americanus var. americanus
  4. Agalinis heterophylla
  5. Allium canadense var. canadense
  6. Ambrosia psilostachya
  7. Ambrosia trifida var. texana
  8. Amphiachyris dracunculoides
  9. Andropogon ternarius
  10. Anthoxanthum odoratum
  11. Asclepias viridis
  12. Avena fatua
  13. Baccharis neglecta
  14. Bifora americana
  15. Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica
  16. Bothriochloa laguroides subsp. torreyana
  17. Bradburia pilosa
  18. Briza minor
  19. Bromus japonicus
  20. Carex tetrastachya
  21. Castilleja indivisa
  22. Cenchrus spinifex
  23. Cercis canadensis var. canadensis
  24. Chamaecrista fasciculata
  25. Chenopodium pallescens
  26. Chloris verticillata
  27. Cirsium altissimum
  28. Cirsium texanum
  29. Coleataenia anceps subsp. rhizomata
  30. Coreopsis tinctoria
  31. Crocanthemum rosmarinifolium
  32. Croton capitatus
  33. Croton lindheimeri
  34. Croton lindheimerianus
  35. Croton monanthogynus
  36. Cyperus acuminatus
  37. Cyperus bidens
  38. Cyperus echinacea
  39. Cyperus entrerianus
  40. Cyperus esculentus
  41. Cyperus lupulinus subsp. lupulinus
  42. Cyperus surinamensis
  43. Daucus carota
  44. Daucus pusillus
  45. Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. scribnerianum
  46. Diospyros virginiana
  47. Echinochloa crus-galli
  48. Eleocharis montevidensis
  49. Eragrostis cilianensis
  50. Eragrostis curtipedicellata
  51. Eragrostis spectabilis
  52. Erigeron strigosus
  53. Eriochloa contracta
  54. Eupatorium serotinum
  55. Euphorbia bicolor
  56. Euphorbia davidii
  57. Euphorbia maculata
  58. Euphorbia prostrata
  59. Euphorbia serpens
  60. Fissidens bryoides
  61. Fraxinus albicans
  62. Fraxinus pennsylvanica
  63. Gaillardia aestivalis var. aestivalis
  64. Gaillardia pulchella
  65. Geranium dissectum
  66. Glandularia bipinnatifida
  67. Gleditsia triacanthos
  68. Grindelia ciliata
  69. Gutierrezia texana
  70. Helenium amarum var. amarum
  71. Helianthus annuus
  72. Heterotheca latifolia
  73. Hexasepalum teres
  74. Hordeum pusillum
  75. Hypericum drummondii
  76. Hypericum perforatum
  77. Ilex vomitoria
  78. Ipomoea cordatotriloba
  79. Ipomoea shumardiana (CR)
  80. Iva angustifolia
  81. Iva annua
  82. Juncus effusus
  83. Juncus marginatus
  84. Juncus tenuis
  85. Juncus torreyi
  86. Juniperus virginiana
  87. Lactuca ludoviciana
  88. Lactuca serriola
  89. Lathyrus hirsutus
  90. Lespedeza cuneata
  91. Liatris punctata var. mucronata
  92. Limnosciadium pinnatum
  93. Linum sulcatum
  94. Lolium multiflorum
  95. Lonicera sempervirens
  96. Lythrum alatum subsp. lanceolatum
  97. Mimosa quadrivalvis var. platycarpa
  98. Mollugo verticillata
  99. Monarda citriodora var. citriodora
  100. Monarda punctata var. intermedia
  101. Nekemias arborea
  102. Nephroia carolina
  103. Neptunia lutea
  104. Oenothera speciosa
  105. Opuntia macrorhiza
  106. Oxalis dillenii
  107. Panicum coloratum
  108. Paspalum dilatatum
  109. Paspalum floridanum
  110. Paspalum notatum
  111. Paspalum pubiflorum var. pubiflorum
  112. Passiflora incarnata
  113. Pediomelum tenuiflorum
  114. Phalaris caroliniana
  115. Physalis mollis var. mollis
  116. Pistacia chinensis
  117. Plantago aristata
  118. Polypogon monspeliensis
  119. Polypremum procumbens
  120. Polytaenia texana
  121. Prosopis glandulosa
  122. Prunella vulgaris
  123. Prunus angustifolia
  124. Prunus mexicana
  125. Ptilimnium capillaceum
  126. Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus
  127. Quercus fusiformis
  128. Quercus shumardii
  129. Rhus glabra
  130. Rotala ramosior
  131. Rubus oklahomus
  132. Rubus pascuus
  133. Rubus trivialis
  134. Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima
  135. Rumex crispus
  136. Rumex hastatulus
  137. Sabatia campestris
  138. Salix nigra
  139. Schizachyrium scoparium
  140. Scleria triglomerata
  141. Setaria parviflora
  142. Sideroxylon lanuginosum
  143. Sisyrinchium minus
  144. Sixalix atropurpurea
  145. Smilax bona-nox
  146. Solanum dimidiatum
  147. Solanum elaeagnifolium
  148. Solanum rostratum
  149. Solidago altissima
  150. Sorghum halepense
  151. Sphenopholis obtusata
  152. Symphyotrichum divaricatum
  153. Symphyotrichum ericoides
  154. Torilis arvensis
  155. Toxicodendron radicans subsp. negundo
  156. Triadica sebifera
  157. Tridens albescens
  158. Trifolium campestre
  159. Triodanis biflora
  160. Typha domingensis
  161. Ulmus alata
  162. Ulmus americana
  163. Ulmus crassifolia
  164. Valerianella radiata
  165. Verbena halei
  166. Vitis mustangensis
  167. Weissia controversa
  168. Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
  169. Zeltnera texensis

See the images below for more detailed info on substrate and topography of the site:

My observation data-points for plants at the site pulled from iNat, 655 points of 162 species over a 5 month period. From my first visit of the site on May 11th, 2020 to October 12, 2020, my most recent. Some species not uploaded to iNat but present at the site are in the species list.

Overview of the site topography, 1m intervals at 20 levels.

Overview of the site topography, 1m intervals at 50 levels.

The highest area of the site, a low hill, 1m intervals at 20 levels.

A small depression, 1m intervals at 20 levels.

Soil sections per USGS.

46- Images of the surface layer within section 46 of the soil map after removing a clump of Panicum coloratum. Justin fine sandy loam, 1-3 percent slopes. Well-drained, medium runoff with a moderately slow permeability and easy root penetration. Slightly acid surface to mildly alkaline around 33-80 inches down. This section stretches across the site from Prosopis savanna into open clearing with a diversity of grasses (Schizachyrium scoparium dominating) and to the east into Diospyros woodland.

Open grassland within section 46.

60- The landscape within section 60, Navo clay loam, 1-3 percent slopes. A slightly acid surface becoming moderately alkaline around 72-80 inches deep. Well draining with slow permeability, deep root zone, and medium runoff. This section stretches across the site from west to east but is part of open grassland and savanna throughout, with Schizachyrium scoparium, Juniperus virginiana, Iva angustifolia, and Prosopis glandulosa dominating.

Iva angustifolia covering the surface of the soil in September within section 60.

84- The landscape within section 84, Wilson clay loam, 1-3 percent slopes. Slightly acid surface layer to moderately alkaline around 43-52 inches deep. Poorly drained, with slow runoff and permeability. One of the more diverse areas of the site, with runoff coming from low slopes to the north and south, allowing for a high amount of available moisture. This soil section at the site follows a stream for most of its length before the stream halts to small depressions in the lower pocket of 46. After the stream, the rest of the area within 84 is open grassland with Rubus pascuus canes arching over much of the area, as well as plenty of Gaillardia aestivalis, Passiflora incarnata, and Heterotheca latifolia.

Savanna within section 84.

11- Image from Google Earth of the landscape within section 11 on the soil map, Birome fine sandy loam, 1-3 percent slopes. Well-drained, rapid-runoff soil with a relatively limited root zone. Neutral at the surface becoming strongly acidic around 60 inches deep. The foreground is mowed somewhat haphazardly, but the tree line in the background of mostly Juniperus virginiana is home to Chenopodium pallescens.

Section 11 profile from the USDA Denton Co. soil survey.

Publicado el enero 11, 2021 08:40 MAÑANA por aidancampos aidancampos | 18 comentarios | Deja un comentario