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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY AND CONTROL OF TICKS OF VETERINARY AND HUMAN IMPORTANCE

Location: Tick and Biting Fly Research

Title: Constraints and opportunities for ecological restoration in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas

Author
item Racelis, Alexis

Submitted to: Society for Ecological Restoration Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 8, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Few areas in the United States have experienced a more precipitous population growth than the Lower Rio Grande Valley (RGV). This growth has led to rapid urbanization that has dramatically changed land cover and land use patterns in the area. Only a small fraction of natural vegetation remains; much of which is under constant ecological pressure from invasive species such as salt cedar, giant reed, and other non-native grasses. These disturbing, but undeniable trends undoubtedly will continue to have a tremendous impact on native biodiversity and ecosystems, requiring novel attempts to enhance the health of our local environment and conserve the important ecosystem services it provides. In this talk, I present some of the key challenges for conservation and ecological restoration in the RGV and provide examples of promising strategies and directions that may help stem these challenges. I summarize recent advances of programs for the biological control of locally invasive species, highlight recent research on the ecological role of urban forests, and discuss the opportunities for citizen-driven conservation in the RGV.

Technical Abstract: There are few areas in the United States that have experienced a more precipitous growth than the Lower Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in south Texas, where human populations have almost doubled in the last 20 years. This growth is matched with a rapid proliferation of built environments that is often associated with the loss or disruption of natural ecosystems. In south Texas, only a small fraction of natural vegetation remains, much of which is under constant ecological pressure from invasive species such as salt cedar (Tamarix sp.), giant reed (Arundo donax), and other non native grasses such as guineagrass (Megathrysus infestus) and bufflegrass (Pennisetum ciliare). These undeniable trends of growth undoubtedly will continue to have a tremendous impact on native biodiversity and ecosystems, requiring novel attempts to enhance the health of our local environment and conserve the important ecosystem services it provides. Examples of promising strategies and directions that may help stem these trends include the biological control of invasive species, the enhancement of the biodiversity value of urban and agroecological areas, and the promotion of opportunities for citizen science and citizen-driven conservation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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