programs Natural Resources

Ongoing Research

Black-spotted Newt

The black-spotted newt lives along the coastal plain of Texas from the San Antonio River to the Rio Grande. The historical range of the species extends for several hundred more miles along the Gulf Coast into Mexico.

Desert Grassland Habitat Assessment

Two species considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act – the desert massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii) and the spot-tailed earless lizard (Holbrookia lacerata) – are among the diverse species of West and South Texas grasslands.

Freshwater Mussels - Central Texas

smooth pimpleback, Texas pimpleback, Texas fatmucket, Texas fawnsfoot, false spike

Until recently, the mussels of central Texas were mostly a mystery. Their distribution, life cycle and habitat needs and threats to the species were not known.

Freshwater Mussels - East Texas

Louisiana pigtoe, triangle pigtoe, Texas heelsplitter

Recent research – although limited – shows the freshwater mussels of East Texas have declined in number, most likely because of historical over-harvesting, habitat degradation, loss of host fish species and the introduction of non-native invasive mussel species.

Eastern Black Rail

The eastern black rail is listed as endangered by six eastern states, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Matagorda Bay Ecosystem Assessment

Spanning over 400 square miles of the Central Texas coast, Matagorda Bay serves as a rich resource for numerous industries including commercial and recreational fishing, commercial oystering, farming and agriculture, and tourism.

Monarch Butterfly

No insect under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received more attention at the highest levels of government than the monarch butterfly.

Plains Spotted Skunk

The historic range of the plains spotted skunk covers most of the central plains in the United States from Texas to Wyoming. The Katy Prairie northwest of Houston is home to one of the last known populations in Texas.

Rio Grande Cooter

Although the historic range of the Rio Grande cooter covers thousands of square miles in the United States and Mexico, it is one of the least studied turtles in North America.

Spot-tailed Earless Lizard

The spot-tailed earless lizard is notable for a row of black spots on the underside of its tail, for a lack of external ear openings and for confusing generations of Texas herpetologists.

Texas Kangaroo Rat

According to biologists, over the last 100 years, the Texas kangaroo rat range has decreased from 13 counties (11 counties in North Texas and two in Southern Oklahoma) to only five counties in Texas.