Mapping Rare Plants on Roadsides

Mapping Rare Plants on Roadsides

Research Team

Kim Norton Taylor

Conservation Research Botanist

BRIT partnered with Tarleton State University in 2016 to create predictive habitat maps of rare species for Texas Department of Transportation. BRIT worked to better understand the habitat needs and preferences of 57 rare species by examining herbarium specimens and the scientific literature. This information was mapped to show areas where each of the rare species is most likely to occur. Texas Department of Transportation will use these maps to improve their ability to protect rare species which grow along their roadways. For several of these rare species, roadsides represent a significant portion of the known populations. Conserving them in these locations is critical to the species survival.

Why do rare plants grow on roadsides?

Roadsides, particularly in rural areas, are some of the only land that is not heavily impacted by human use. Periodic mowing serves to prevent the growth of woody vegetation on these roadsides, maintaining the native open prairie vegetation. The lack of cattle allows plants that are particularly tasty to thrive. For sensitive plant species, this native plant oasis is often the ideal habitat!