Nongame and Rare Species Program: What We Do
Texas is one of the most biologically diverse states in the continental United States, home to thousands of native animal and plant species and over 800 distinct natural communities. Hundreds of these species are restricted to very discrete regions of the state and occur nowhere else in the world. Texas also contains several animal and plant species that have been listed as threatened or endangered species.
There is a continual need to collect and evaluate biological information to develop a comprehensive understanding of the biology and ecology of rare, threatened, and endangered species and the factors which limit their populations. Tools used by statewide and regional wildlife diversity biologists to apply effective conservation measures include:
Expert Interpretation: Statewide biologists collect, evaluate, and synthesize significant amounts of biological data to better inform conservation decisions, formulate management practices, and aid in the recovery of listed species. For many rare animals and plants, statewide and regional wildlife diversity biologists represent one of the only avenues for expert interpretation of species status. Consequently, the program serves as a nexus for inquiries from governmental, non-profit, and private sector entities regarding rare species and habitat conservation in Texas.
Partnerships: A critical component to species conservation in Texas is the private landowner, from owners of small ranches to vast commercial timberlands. Statewide biologists have forged many successful partnerships with private landowners across the state to document occurrences of rare species or habitats, provide advice to landowners regarding the most effective management of their resources, and assist with restoration or enhancement projects that support the Texas Conservation Action Plan. Statewide and regional wildlife diversity biologists also represent the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in a number of cooperative conservation forums including Joint Ventures, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and Habitat Conservation Plans.
Field Surveys and Monitoring: Statewide biologists conduct field surveys on private and public lands to collect data on species distribution and population status. Survey work can result in the discovery of previously unknown populations of a species or even species new to Texas. Ultimately, the data collected and developed is a key component of assessing how specific native species are faring in Texas, especially those animals and plants that are state and/or federally listed.