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AT22-333 Webinar Thornscrub Conservation Partnership

August 17, 2022 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Webinar Title: Thornscrub Conservation Partnership

AT-VMS: AT: Texas A&M AgriLife (Enter AT#, Class Title as posted, Location, and Presenter)

Comments: AT22-333 Webinar Thornscrub Conservation Partnership, Presenter: Jon Dale (AT=1h)

Webinar Date: 8/17/2022
Webinar Time: 12:00p-1:00p

Webinar Summary:
Learn about the subtropical Tamaulipan thornforest (aka thornscrub) in the Rio Grande delta floodplain.

Webinar Description:
In the Rio Grande delta’s floodplain (Texas: Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy Counties) variations in elevation, proximity to water, and underlying soils result in a mix of subtropical Tamaulipan thornforest (aka thornscrub) vegetation types. This spatial diversity provides habitat for a multitude of species, the most visible being plants (1,200+ species), birds (530), and invertebrates (e.g., 300+ butterfly). Within these forests, a number of neotropical species are existing on the northern fringe of their natural distributions, including ocelot (Leopardus pardalis albescens), Blue Wing (Myscelia ethusa), and speckled racer (Drymobius margaritiferus). Approximately 45 of these species are considered federally or state threatened and another 125 are listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) by the State of Texas.

The RGV’s thornforest ecosystem and its dependent species associations have been historically undervalued in the course of settlement, which began in the mid-1700’s. Although ranching culture and economic development through the 19th century placed a premium on maintaining this natural cover for the benefit of livestock operations, more than 90% of the ecosystem’s pre-1930 extent within the three eastern counties (Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy) has been lost to land conversion in the past century. This course of events was initially the result of clearing for irrigated farms, from roughly 1900 to 1950. In the past 30 years, however, much of the region’s working lands have been converted to residential and commercial use as growth from established population centers like McAllen and Brownsville has merged with intensifying rural sprawl. This accelerating conversion has continued to diminish the RGV’s terrestrial biodiversity through a loss of both source habitats for recruitment and migration corridors.

To address the conservation needs of the region, the Thornforest Conservation Partnership (TCP) was formed in 2019 to jointly develop science-based plans and goals to guide conservation efforts in the RGV, communicate the importance of forest habitat and conservation progress to the public, and encourage action for stronger public policies and funding. To this end, the TCP has completed the Thornforest Conservation Plan as a starting point for catalyzing a coordinated, regional response to thornforest conservation. The plan was developed by modeling the RGV’s existing forest network and creating a spatial analysis of wildlife movement within it to inform landscape-level habitat restoration opportunities. Lands that correspond to a higher restoration score in the analysis are areas where reforestation is expected to provide lasting benefits to several focal wildlife species, including: Altamira oriole (Icterus gularis), ocelot, and Texas tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri).

Cost: No charge

Register @:  TPWD Wildlife Diversity Series
Event number (access code): 2480 735 1799
Event password: GptPhi5ms74
Note: Registration via mobile devices is not supported. You must register using a computer.

Jon Dale, Director of Forest Restoration in the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico

Contact Information:
Jonah Evans
[email protected]

Organization Website:

Sponsoring Organization:
TPWD Wildlife Diversity