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Conservation Biology field trip

 

 

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September 14-18, 2011


 

During this past fall, the Conservation Biology class carved out a wide swathe across the state of Texas, traveling to a number of locations.  At all sites, students were able to see rare, threatened, and endangered species and/or their habitat.  They were also able to interact directly in the field with conservation biologists who work to protect these species at each site to get a flavor of the types of career opportunities available and the way in which conservation is practiced “on the ground”.  The following sites were visited:

Bracken Cave Preserve (owned by Bat Conservation International; near San Antonio, TX)

Visited occupied nesting habitat for endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers and observed management activities conducted on the property to improve habitat for the species.

Viewed the exodus on Wednesday evening and the re-entry on Thursday morning of over 20 million free-tailed bats that roost and raise their young in Bracken Cave.  This is the largest maternity roost in the world for this species.  An amazing sight!!!

Independence Creek Preserve (owned by the Nature Conservancy; near Ozona, TX)

Rare desert spring with habitat for 3 species of threatened or endangered fish:  Pecos Gambusia, Proserpine Shiner, and Headwaters Catfish.  Also visited nesting habitat used by threatened Black-capped Vireo along Independence Creek.

Diamond Y Spring (owned by the Nature Conservancy; near Ft. Stockton, TX)

One of a disappearing complex of Chihuahuan Desert cienegas.  Habitat for Pecos Gambusia and the only place on earth where natural populations of the endangered Leon Springs Pupfish can be found.  The soils around this cienega also harbor the endangered Puzzle Sunflower which is endemic to the soils associated with these springs.

Haney Ranch (near San Angelo, TX)

Demonstrated and practiced wildlife sampling techniques in the field: small mammal trapping, fish sampling in Big Rocky Creek, and capturing and banding birds using mist nets.