Conservation Partners connecting working lands conservation from the Gulf of Mexico to the High Plains with the vision of a sustainable landscape of natural resources resilient to the threats and stressors associated with our changing world.

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    Edwards Plateau - Julie Groce

    Photo courtesy Julie Groce, Texas A&M IRNR

Protecting the ecology of Texas’ Edwards Plateau

Formal Title: Delineation of Shared Interests in the Edwards Plateau

Research Focus: Edwards Plateau, Texas

Conservation & Management Challenges:

Rapid changes taking place in the Edwards Plateau of central Texas, such as population growth, urbanization, land use change, and climate change, are dramatically affecting the ecology.  The unique karst hydrology of the Edwards Plateau area feeds the Edwards Aquifer, the primary water source for the city of San Antonio, America’s eighth-largest city.  Increased water demands associated with the burgeoning population are altering aquatic systems and imperiling dozens of species such as Eurycea salamanders (a focal species of the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative) as well as the State Fish of Texas, Guadalupe bass, and more than a dozen other freshwater fish.

The Edwards Plateau is home to a diversity of wildlife: golden-cheeked warblers, cedar waxwings, and indigo buntings are found there, as are cave-dwelling species, such as the Brazilian (Mexican) free-tailed bat, an LCC focal species; and bobcats, armadillos, turkey, and javelinas. 

Marshaling a network of partners is the first step in improving conservation in this area.  Initial efforts will include development of shared spatial data to help identify and prioritize conservation efforts. In the future, computer modeling tools with information on habitat, land use, and climate change and urban growth projections will greatly support LCC partners’ conservation efforts for this ecologically important region.  

Research Overview:

Developing this science is a priority for the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative. The project initially involves establishing an Edwards Plateau Work Group to formally bring partners together, identifying the need for developing shared spatial data that describes geographic conservation interests, and verifying existing conservation activities (e.g., conservation easements, managed public land boundaries, project areas for restoration activities, mitigation bank boundaries, etc.) These interests will then be overlaid to highlight shared interests geographically. Existing conservation activities will be collated and combined into a single dataset and then further developed as maps. These initial efforts will enable partners to further develop conservation priorities for the Edwards Plateau. Future development of computer modeling tools with information on habitat, land use, and climate change and urban growth projects will greatly support partners’ priority-setting, planning, and conservation efforts.

Results:

The efforts of the work group are ongoing. Partners came together in 2012 to discuss a more focused conservation effort in the Edwards Plateau. Maps showing the initial spatial data work, including the overlay of partner conservation activities, will be presented at the next Edwards Plateau Work Group meeting in the summer of 2014 and will guide decisions on priorities and future conservation work.

Status:

The ongoing project was initiated in 2012. It is being developed by staff of the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

Contacts:

Principal Investigator: Nicholas Enwright, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70506

Landscape Conservation Cooperative Point-of-Contact: Bill Bartush, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70506

For more information, visit the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

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