A Vanishing Lizard
Surveys seek answers to mystery of the spot-tailed earless lizard.
Clymer Meadow Preserve
Wildflower tours and seed harvesting at a north Texas treasure.
There’s a saying that you can’t know where you’re if you don’t know where you’ve been. In conservation, you can’t judge success without knowing what you’ve started with. That’s why The Nature Conservancy created the Texas Natural History Survey (TNHS), an ongoing program comprising our science and conservation staff, dedicated volunteers and private landowners all working together to catalog the vast biological diversity in Texas.
With more than 4,400 plants species and 1,800 animal species, Texas ranks among the most biologically diverse states in America. The TNHS strives to collect, maintain and analyze information about that array of life in order to create programs that protect species currently at risk and prevent others from being added to the endangered list.
TNHS data is gathered by Conservancy scientists, volunteers and partners through the ongoing surveying of public and private lands. This data provides valuable insight when analyzed and compared to current information and helps us gauge the needs and progress of conservation in Texas. In addition to its use by the Conservancy, TNHS data is provided to NatureServe, a non-profit organization that coordinates the International Network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.
Through NatureServe, TNHS data is shared with partners in education, government and other conservation organizations. The information gathered on NatureServe is also available at no cost to the general public through NatureServe Explorer, an online database.
The study of private lands is useful not only to conservationists, but to participating landowners, as well. The landowners we work with are often surprised by the sheer variety of wildlife present on their property. Participating in qualified biological inventories can also help landowners qualify for wildlife management valuations on their property tax.
The TNHS program also continuously monitors Conservancy preserves and project sites. At several Conservancy locations, stewardship and restoration work have allowed native species to re-establish themselves—a true benchmark of conservation success. In the past twenty years, several species previously thought rare or imperiled have been removed from conservation lists because of multiple sightings.
Regardless of what is found, every site survey helps illuminate the overall picture of natural life in Texas and is thus integral to the continued success of the TNHS. The willing participation of private landowners, other conservation organizations and the general public provides us with knowledge of Texas’ biological diversity that is critical to protecting our state’s natural heritage for future generations.January 31, 2012