Mapping Rare Plants on Roadsides

Research Team

Kim Norton Taylor

Conservation Research Botanist

Erin Flinchbaugh

Conservation Program Assistant

BRIT is partnering with Tarleton State University to create predictive habitat maps of rare species for the Texas Department of Transportation. BRIT is working to better understand the habitat needs and preferences of 17 rare species by examining herbarium specimens and the scientific literature. This information will be 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!

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My Research Internship: An education beyond expectations

This article was written by Erin Flinchbaugh, 2019 BRIT Summer Intern and student at University of Texas at Arlington. Erin interned with Conservation Botanist Kim Taylor , working with the NatureServe Conservation Status Ranks and Mapping Rare Plants on Roadsides projects within the Texas Plant Conservation Program . Beginning my internship at BRIT, I expected many of my passions to be shared by the people surrounding me: a passion for our natural world, its conservation, restoration, and preservation were the common ground we shared. When I started my internship I didn’t expect to find myself invested in the direction of tiny hairs faced on a stem, squatting down in the dirt (and once an ant pile) to further inspect and then debate the trichomes. This summer I was mentored by Kim Taylor...
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