Monthly Archives: June 2010

Wildlife Habitat Response to Climate Change

The vast majority of climate models predict more variable rainfall with greater periods of drought in the next 50 to 100 years. However, researchers do not yet understand how increased drought and more variability in drought stress will affect ecosystem structure and function. For example, in ecosystems such as central Texas grasslands, where rainfall is already highly variable and drought can be severe, less rain or less frequent rain may push the ecosystem past a threshold, especially in an absence of brush management, to where grasslands are not sustainable.

Alternatively, drought-prone ecosystems that already face extremely variable rainfall may be well equipped to withstand increased drought. How drought alters ecosystem function will be important for both the ecosystem itself and for ecosystem feedbacks to climate change. Continue reading

Gus Engling WMA Flooded

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reporting that the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is closed to public use until further notice after major localized flooding during recent rain storms in Anderson County resulted in major road damage. The WMA received 8 to 12 inches of rain and the main road that provides access to visitors and hunters is washed out in at least 7 places.

The department has also said that all side roads are also impassable to motor vehicles, but habitat should respond well. The Texas Department of Transportation is assessing damages and repair costs and WMA staff is trying to get a handle on side road damage. According to local accounts, the event marks the heaviest localized flooding since the early 1970s. Continue reading

Edible Native Plants of Texas

Texas is a state diverse in both native plants and wildlife. Almost anyone that has spent time in the beautiful outdoors of the Lone Star State has probably thought more than once about the edible plants of Texas. Using native plants for human consumption is not only cool in my opinion, but there is something to be said of having natural foods in our diets.

First, let me say that before consuming any wild food, be absolutely certain of its proper identity. Many plants have look-a-likes that appear very similar. So when in doubt, do not eat it. So after doing a little research, here are some of the edible Texas plants you can enjoy: Continue reading

Wetland Management for Better Habitat

Wetlands are some of the most productive wildife lands in the country, having very high plant and animal diversity. Wetlands provide breeding grounds and habitat for thousands of ducks, geese, and other water-loving bird and wildlife species. There are many kinds of wetlands and many habitat management techniques that can be used to improve waterfowl habitat.

Shallow water depths from 2 to 18 inches are most desirable fo dabbling ducks such as mallards, pintail, widgeon, mottled ducks, shovelers, gadwall, teal and wood ducks. Puddle ducks do not usually dive, but tip-up and feed on seeds, acorns, and roots on the ground under water. Diving ducks, such as canvasbacks, redheads, rigneck, and scaup prefer deeper waters over 36 inches in depth. For best results in your waterfowl management endeavor, make sure to familiarize yourself with the habits and habitat needed for the wildlife you wish to manage. Continue reading

Wildlife Management Plan for Better Habitat

Habitat management for better native plant communities that benefit endemic wildlife species is a noble concept, but many landowners do not properly plan their management endeavors. There is a logical sequence of steps that a landowner should follow once they have decided to plan or manage for wildlife. Not only is a wildlife management plan a must, but property owners need to think about their long term desires.

What are your goals? Decide exactly what you would like to do for wildlife and wildlife habitats. Do you want more individuals or a few game species, more birds at your feeder, better white-tailed deer, more ducks on your ponds, or a greater diversity of species in your woods. Do you wish to qualify for a wildlife tax exemption? First and foremost, write down your goals. Continue reading

Waterfowl Management on Farm Lands

Waterfowl management on agricultural (farm) lands

Agricultural lands are great for the multi-purpose oriented landowner looking for additional recreational opportunities or income from wildlife. In addition to crops, farm land provides important feeding areas for various wildlife species, particulary waterfowl such as ducks and geese. However, these ag lands may not be attractive to waterfowl unless certain waterfowl management practices are practiced.

Most ag fields do provide some component of habitat for local wildlife throughout the year. However, many lands also serve as important habitat for migratory wildlife such as waterfowl. However, not all lands are sought after by waterfowl and that is usually because there is one important component that is missing — water. They are called waterfowl, after all, and here are some habitat management practices you can implement to create better wintering habitat, as well as duck and goose hunting. Continue reading

Waterfowl Management with Bottomland Habitat

Wetland management for waterfowl in bottomland hardwoods. 

Wetlands contain the most productive plant and animal communities in the world. And although there are many types of wetlands, bottomland hardwoods are particularly important. Not only because these areas serve significant ecological functions, but also because these bottomland wetlands are critical for local and migratory wildlife. Specifically, waterfowl use bottomland hardwoods for nesting, feeding, and wintering habitat. Landowners interested in providing better wildlife habitat should consider wetland management.

Bottomland wetlands are typically comprised of hardwood forest and the dominant tree species vary by latitude and geography. Bottomland forest are more productive than upland forest and the wildlife associated with them is different. Understanding the value of bottomland wetlands to wildlife is critical, and there are many practices that landowners can implement to improve and enhance natural bottomland wetland areas. The keys to providing quality river bottomland habitat for waterfowl include the following habitat management practices as outlined below. Continue reading