The Texas Department of Transportation is calling upon North Texas plant and geographic data experts to help it better protect rare plant species growing along Texas highways.
The Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth and Tarleton State University will partner for the TxDOT-funded project, which seeks to build habitat maps for 57 of the 81 Edwards Plateau rare plant species.
For many of these plant species, Central Texas roadsides are the places they are most commonly found, according to a BRIT release.
“If we locate rare plant species within TxDOT rights-of-way, these areas may be managed differently, with less disturbance, or with some form of mitigation.”
BRIT researchers will study plant specimens from its herbarium and collect data on their environmental preferences and needs, geographic locations, and what other plants they are known to coexist with. The information will be given to a Tarleton Geographic Information System specialist to map out the likely locations of the plants. From there, BRIT and Tarleton researchers will survey those locations.
Dr. Darrel Murray, adjunct professor in Tarleton’s Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences, said the project is twofold.
“First, from a collaboration standpoint, this project fits into the intent of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Tarleton State University and BRIT in January of this year promoting common interests in education, research, and service to the public,” Murray said in a release. “Second, from a conservation standpoint, if we locate rare plant species within TxDOT rights-of-way, these areas may be managed differently, with less disturbance, or with some form of mitigation.”
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