Society for Ecological Restoration

Texas Chapter 


     Restoration Field Notes                  March, 2017

In This Issue




Quick Links




Board of Directors 



Kelly Lyons


Vice President

Katherine Crosthwaite



Matthew McCaw



Colin Shackelford


North Texas Rep.

Michelle Villafranca


East Texas Rep.

William Forbes


South Texas Rep.

Forrest Smith


West Texas Rep.

Charlotte Reemts


Central Texas Rep.

Ingrid Karklins


S. Coastal Texas Rep.

Alejandro Fierro Cabo


N. Coastal Texas Rep.

Bradley Hoge


Chapter Director

Gwen Thomas





(972) 768-8067 


2017 Conference
Nov. 10-12, 2017
Univ. of North Texas
Denton, TX

Visit: for conference details.

Employment Opportunities 
& More
For up-to-date announcements of positions open in ecological restoration and environmental science,
visit our website at:
Job Postings

We also post a wide range of articles on ecological restoration issues as well as job and volunteer opportunities on our Facebook page at:
TXSER Facebook Page

South Rio Grande Valley
TXSER Newsflash 


TXSER 2017 Annual Conference
November 10-12, 2017
University of North Texas, Denton

TXSER's 2017 Annual Conference is coming home to North Texas where TXSER was originally founded.  The conference will be held November 10-12 on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton.  Conference planning is underway and we will update you as plans evolve.  Meanwhile, mark your calendars and plan on joining fellow TXSER members and friends in November in North Texas.
TXSER Action Items

1.  March for Science/Earth Day Challenge 

In support of the April 22nd March for Science and Earth Day 2017, TXSER wants to spread the word about the importance of science to the ecological restoration field by sharing profiles of who we are and what makes this field great. We are looking for scientists, practitioners, policy makers and students involved in the field to submit profiles that we can share on social media leading up to the March for Science and Earth Day on April 22nd.

Our challenge is to share a profile a day between March 22nd and April 22nd. Let's show our friends, colleagues, and well....the world, the fabulous faces of the Texas restoration community.

Please include the following in your profile submission:

1. A photo of you in action; 
2. Your name or, if you prefer, your first name and last initial.
3. A brief description of what you do.  Make it approximately 100 characters which will leave room to add a couple hashtags.

Send profiles to: Gwen Thomas -

2.  Directory of ER Expertise

TXSER is developing a directory of expertise in ecological restoration for the region.  Our goal is to make this a resource list for those seeking technical assistance and for those seeking to collaborate on ecological restoration efforts across the State and beyond.  The directory will be updated annually, so you will have a chance to update your information on a regular basis.

To be included in the directory, please follow the link below to respond to TXSER's questionnaire.  It is 9 simple questions that will take a very short time to complete.  Click on the link below to begin.

For those of you who have already completed and submitted this questionnaire, unless you wish to revise what you wrote, there is no need to submit another.  We have all the information previously submitted. 

This document will be made accessible in the next few months via the TXSER website.  Please understand that this will be a public document.  Much of the information requested on the questionnaire is already accessible on the internet.  Do NOT include private information or information that you do not wish to have made public.   We will let you know as soon as it is completed and ready for use.

3.  H.B. 1009 - Legislation to Reclassify Prescribed Burning

Currently, prescribed burning is classified and regulated in Texas as a land management activity. H.B. 1009 would classify prescribed burning as a firefighting activity and make it illegal for any municipal employee who is not a full-time, permanent civil service employee of a fire department to participate in any wildland firefighting activity, including prescribed burning.

H.B. 1009 has been referred to the Committee on Urban Affairs.  A hearing has not been scheduled.

Committee Chairs are: Rep. Carol Alvarado, Chair and Rep. Jeff Leach, Vice-Chair.  Other committee members include:  Reps. Diego Bernal, Gary Elkins, Isaac Jason, Jarvis D. Johnson, and Bill Zedler.

TXSER's Plan:  
1.  Please check to see if your state representative is on the committee (above).  If so, contact them soon about this bill.  Call and follow up with a letter or email.  See the below link for more information that you may use, amend or write your own.

2.  We are watching the bill and will notify interested folks when it has been scheduled for a hearing.  If you can, travel to Austin to testify at the committee hearing.  If you can't make the hearing, send another round of comments to the committee members a few days before the hearing.

3.  If you wish to be included on a list of people interested in receiving updates on H.B. 1009, please send Gwen Thomas an email at

For detailed information about H.B. 1009 and talking points, follow the below link for a February statement from TXSER.  

TXSER Members Collaborate on Invasive Species Research
By:  Charlotte Reemts
Research & Monitoring Ecologist,  The Nature Conservancy
Trinity University student planting native grasses.
Photo credit:  Kelly Lyons

King Ranch bluestem ( Bothriochloa ischaemum), also known as KR, yellow, or Old World bluestem, is a non-native species that has invaded many grasslands in Texas. Cultivars in our region were originally introduced from Asia to "improve" degraded pastures, particularly during drought. As with many introductions, KR bluestem establishment was originally perceived as a success because the amount of forage increased and it was easier to bale and market than diverse native grasslands. On the flip side, KR bluestem has relatively low forage value and it has invaded thousands of acres of native grassland.

Controlling KR bluestem in native grasslands has been difficult. Prescribed fire during the winter, traditionally the most common time to burn, appears to favor KR bluestem compared to native grasses. Growing-season fire, especially when the grass is about to bloom, can reduce the amount of KR bluestem temporarily but, in most cases, it re-invades quickly.

Through funding from Bob Ayres and Shield Ranch, three TXSER members - Kelly Lyons (Trinity University), Matt McCaw (City of Austin), and Charlotte Reemts (The Nature Conservancy) - are collaborating on an experiment to evaluate restoration as a KR control technique. They are testing which native species provide the highest rates of KR suppression and whether planting or seeding native grasses can decrease re-invasion.

Study plots were established on three sites: City of Austin Water Quality Protection Lands, TNC's Barton Creek Habitat Preserve, and the private Shield Ranch. At each site, the grasslands were burned and then planted or seeded with combinations of native species: big bluestem, little bluestem, sideoats grama, yellow Indiangrass, and diverse native seed mixtures. The four grasses were chosen based on experiments conducted by Kelly Lyons and her students, which tested the effects of competition between grass seedlings of various species.  Planting was completed by Kelly's enthusiastic students in February. Now the hard part starts: waiting for the plants to grow. We plan on collecting data for at least 2 years and will report the results at future TXSER conferences.

Test plot.  Trinity University students planting seedlings.  Photo credit:  Kelly Lyons

Invasive Species in Riparian Zones:  
Is Eradication the Only Option?
By:  Ingrid Karklins
Ecologist, Environmental Survey Consulting, Inc.

As "critical transition zones" experiencing fast and frequent organism and material inputs (Ewel et al. 2001), riparian area species composition and function can change rapidly and radically. The result of plant species competition is often the formation of novel ecosystems dominated by invasive species (Richardson et al. 2007). Traditional restoration techniques involve complete removal of the invading species via repeated and costly mechanical and chemical treatments (Hanula et al. 2009). Alternatively, careful reductions in invasive monocultures may allow for the development of transitional ecosystems that provide shade, litter and other benefits for native species reintroduction and establishment. Working within the limitations of a novel or no-analogue ecosystem while recognizing existing potential benefits may be a more effective restoration strategy (Hobbs et al. 2006), reducing costly post-restoration management.
Chinese Privet (
Ligustrum sinense)

Introduced from Europe and Asia in the mid 1800s, various Ligustrum species were brought to the United States as ornamentals (Texas 2008). Over the course of several growing seasons, Ligustrum can outcompete native species and create novel ecosystems or even develop understory monoculture forests, most prominent in urban areas (Hanula et al. 2009). Once a novel ecosystem has crossed a biotic threshold to reach a new stable state, efforts to restore historic conditions and processes can be cost-prohibitive and a hopelessly ideal quest to fix the unfixable (Hobbs et al. 2006). Attempts to manage novel ecosystems may actually perpetuate their undesirable features. Instead, restoration efforts should focus on maintaining system resiliency and biogeochemical functions, and enhancing species diversity (Seastedt et al. 2008).

Invasive species eradication can result in desert-like landscapes with intense light exposure, low soil nutrients and high erosion rates. Subsequent plantings of native species have little chance of survival in such extreme conditions (Hobbs et al. 2006). Unfavorable conditions can facilitate the establishment of other nonnative species (Hanula et al. 2009). In one study, Ligustrum removal resulted in early succession/disturbance species colonization which did not meet the restoration goals; although results were dissimilar from the original Ligustrum-dominated ecosystem (Hanula et al. 2009).
NPSOT Volunteers remove Chinese Privet in Boerne.  Photo credit:  Paul Barwick
An alternative to complete removal is working with the existing alternative state to allow for a gradual transition. A gradual species transition may be facilitated by girdling invasive canopy trees and providing shade and cover for native species in the understory (Funk and McDaniel 2010). As the invasive species undergo a gradual dieback, returning native vegetation has the competitive advantage.

Even if not in pristine or historical conditions, alternative states might still have the capacity to provide a broad range of ecosystem services (Pennington et al. 2010) while providing spiritual and aesthetic benefits to urban populations. Constantly threatened by nonnative species, remnant urban vegetation can augment quality of life for human communities by establishing a connection with nature (Miller 2005). It is possible for carefully considered restoration strategies to result in economically, ecologically and socially balanced solutions.

Works cited:
  • Ewel, K. C., C. Cressa, R. T. Kneib, P. S. Lake, L. A. Levin, M. A. Palmer, P. Snelgrove, and D. H. Wall. 2001. Managing critical transition zones. Ecosystems 4:452-460.
  • Funk, J. L. and S. McDaniel. 2010. Altering light availability to restore invaded forest: the predictive role of plant traits. Restoration Ecology 18:865-872.
  • Hanula, J. L., S. Horn, and J. W. Taylor. 2009. Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) removal and its effect on native plant communities of riparian forests. Invasive Plant Science and Management 2:292-300.
  • Hobbs, R. J., S. Arico, J. Aronson, J. S. Baron, P. Bridgewater, V. A. Cramer, P. R. Epstein, J. J. Ewel, C. A. Klink, A. E. Lugo, D. Norton, D. Ojima, D. M. Richardson, E. W. Sanderson, F. Valladares, M. Vil, R. Zamora, and M. Zobel. 2006. Novel ecosystems: theoretical and management aspects of the new ecological world order. Global Ecology & Biogeography 15:1-7.
  • Miller, J. R. 2005. Biodiversity conservation and the extinction of experience. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20:430-434.
  • Pennington, D. N., J. R. Hansel, and D. L. Gorchov. 2010. Urbanization and riparian forest woody communities: Diversity, composition, and structure within a metropolitan landscape. Biological Conservation 143:182-194.
  • Richardson, D. M., P. M. Holmes, K. J. Esler, S. M. Galatowitsch, J. C. Stromberg, S. P. Kirkman, P. Pysek, and R. J. Hobbs. 2007. Riparian vegetation: degradation, alien plant invasions, and restoration prospects. Diversity & Distributions 13:126-139.
  • Seastedt, T. R., R. J. Hobbs, and K. N. Suding. 2008. Management of novel ecosystems: are novel approaches required? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6:547-553.
  • Texas 2008. Ligustrum sinense. <>

News You Can Use

1.     - Offered through Whitenton Group.  Pre-approved by Society for Wetland Scientists.  Houston, TX.  April 17-21.

2.  ReTreet - Wimberly Planting Event.  March 24-26.  Volunteers encouraged to join.  No fees to participate, but registration is required as lunch and dinners are provided.

3.  Environmental Legislation - For those of you searching for information on environmental legislation before the Texas Legislature, the Citizens' Environmental Coalition in Houston has put together an extensive list (although there are a few gaps like HB 1009 that we mentioned above).  Shout out to CEC Houston for pulling this helpful list together.

4.  Gulf of Mexico Marine Invasive Species Data Apps - From TAMU's Gulf Coastal Ocean Observing System.  

5.  Texas Coastal Atlas - From TAMU's Center for Texas Beaches and Shores.

6.  Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund - 2017 Request for Grant Proposals.

7.  Feed a Bee - Request for Proposals to establish forage for pollinators.

A Heartfelt Thanks to the Following Organizations & Individuals for their Generous Support  of our
2016 Annual Conference - Linking Science & Practice!!





Charlotte Reemts & Katherine Crosthwaite

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The Society for Ecological Restoration, Texas Chapter promotes ecological restoration as a means of sustaining the diversity of life on Earth and

re-establishing an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture. 



 Become a member today!                            Click Here to Join Us! 


Join the Texas Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration.  Chapter members receive valuable benefits including:

  • the opportunity to network with restoration practitioners and enthusiasts;
  • discounts to our Annual Conference, an opportunity to share and learn;
  • invitations to attend talks, ER Discussion Groups, and volunteer workdays around the state; and,
  • monthly updates and quarterly newsletters with articles and notices about regional events that allow you to connect to the local restoration community.

Chapter membership fees of $15 support chapter administration.  The TXSER Board of Directors consists of volunteers who share a passion for furthering ecological restoration in Texas.


Joining SER links you with a global restoration network.  SER member benefits include:

  • SERNews bi-monthly newsletter;
  • discounts on journal publications;
  • discounts to SER World Conferences;
  • discounts on SER Career Center;
  • access to a searchable, online member directory;
  • access to SER's Global Restoration Network; and,
  • promotional opportunities through the SER Calendar of Events and Restoration Project Showcase.

To become a member visit:


Be sure to click the Texas Chapter as your Chapter Affiliate.  We look forward to having you join us!