Society for Ecological Restoration

Texas Chapter 


      Restoration Field Notes               September, 2016

In This Issue





Quick Links



Board of Directors 



Charlotte Reemts


Vice President

Kelly Lyons






Colin Shackelford


North Texas Rep.

Michelle Villafranca


East Texas Rep.

William Forbes


South Texas Rep.

Eric Grahmann


West Texas Rep.

Katherine Crosthwaite


Central Texas Rep.

Ingrid Karklins


Coastal Texas Rep.

Alejandro Fierro Cabo


Coastal Texas Rep.

Bradley Hoge


Chapter Director

Gwen Thomas





(972) 768-8067 


2016 Conference
November 11-13, 2016
Camp Cho-Yeh
Livingston, TX

Save the Date!

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:
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South Rio Grande Valley
TXSER Newsflash

Join Us!!

TXSER 2016 Annual Conference:
Linking Science & Practice
November 11-13, 2016
Camp Cho-Yeh, 
Livingston, Texas
(1 hour North of Houston)

The TXSER Conference Website is up and running and continually being updated .  Click the link below to check it out.

Early registration ends - September 30th.
Presentation & poster abstracts due - September 30th.
Conference Update

Some of the exciting events/activities planned for the 2016 conference include:

* Keynote Speaker - Wendy Ledbetter, TNC Forest Program Manager
* Field trips include:  TNC's Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary,  Centennial Forest/Big Thicket Tour & Tree Planting, & t he Pineywoods Mitigation Bank
* Young Professional and Student Social
* Excellence in Ecological Restoration Award
* Campfire and S'mores in the woods
* Volleyball & ping-pong matches, treehouse explorations
* Land-based "blob" (upside-down trampoline)
* Many opportunities for informal networking
* And, of course, lots of great presentations by experts in the field

Check out our conference website for details:   TXSER-2016.
Member Spotlight

Name:  Jody Bickel  
Jody Bickel

City:  Corpus Christi, Texas (Regional Office)

Affiliation:  Business Development Manager for Mitigation Solutions USA, the environmental mitigation subsidiary of Advanced Ecology, Ltd., a natural resources management firm. 

Briefly describe your ongoing efforts/interest in ecological restoration.  As a twenty-year-old, I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine and along the journey became curious about how hiking trails and the public lands corridor were managed. This led me to my first full-time, professional resources management position with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the nonprofit partner for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

As my career evolved, I held senior management positions in a number of regional landscape-scale conservation organizations. In these higher-level roles, I spent a lot of time engaged in assignments related to environmental entrepreneurialism; with a focus on balancing ecological restoration, market forces and regulation.

Nearly 7,000 miles of backcountry hiking later, I am happily situated in a business development role at a nationally-respected environmental mitigation firm. I leverage my skills and knowledge on the technical and regulatory side of natural resources management to build solutions (bridges) between the technical environmental specialists who create environmental offsets and the engineers and developers who need them.

Briefly describe if, and how, climate change has affected your
Smooth cordgrass
Spartina alterniflora) (estuarine and salt water)
work.  Climate change has not directly affected my work. However, I used to live in Colorado and work throughout the Rockies region, so the majority of my efforts were focused in an arid region. Now that I live on the Texas Gulf Coast, most of my focus is on coastal mitigation and restoration.

Describe your favorite outdoor activity.  My favorite outdoor activity is long-distance backcountry hiking. This past July, I completed the Colorado trail, which traverses the Continental Divide from Denver to Durango. The next frontier is long-distance trail racing. 

What is your favorite Texas plant and/or animal?  I have a favorite plant and animal - Smooth cordgrass ( Spartina alterniflora) (estuarine and salt water) and Texas Nine-Banded Armadillo ( Dasypus novemcinctus) (aka, 'little armored one')

Texas Nine-Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
(aka, 'little armored one')
Bison at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
By:  Michelle Villafranca
Natural Resource Specialist,  Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
Fort Worth, TX
Bison (Bison bison) at the FWNC&R
Photo credit:  FWNC&R Staff

Bison ( Bison bison) are an iconic species of North America. They were abundant here through the 1800s when explorers/surveyors estimated the population to be between 30-60 million. After unregulated hunting; bison numbers dwindled to around 325 ( Through the efforts of conservationists, the government and ranchers; bison numbers have recovered to around 30,000 (Defenders of Wildlife). There are few places in the world where you can see a genetically-pure bison herd (untainted by cattle genes). The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge (FWNC&R) is one such place.

Established in 1964, the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, owned by the City of Fort Worth comprises 3,621 acres of riparian, wetland and upland habitat adjacent to the West Fork of the Trinity River. One of the first priorities for the newly-established refuge was to have a bison herd. In 1973, the FWNC&R received a donation of a bull and two heifers from Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. Since then, the herd has expanded and now numbers 13. 

The bison herd is managed for three purposes: 

1) Conservation: The goal is to maintain natural genetic diversity. This is accomplished through genetic testing to determine pure bison genes without cattle DNA. Bison with cattle DNA are sold.

2) Exhibit: Having the herd accessible for the public to view provides opportunities for interpretive education.

3) Ecological: As much as is possible on a small-scale, the ecological purpose of the herd is to fulfill bison's natural role in the ecosystem.

The herd does not have pasturage across the 3,621 acres. There are 5 pastures totaling over 200 acres. They are rotated through the pastures with a combination of goals including grazing management, public viewing, and water availability. Most pastures are connected through double-gated airlocks.

Bison handling - vet visit. The vet has a bison in the squeeze chute to administer shots, read the implanted chip & take DNA samples.  Photo credit:  FWNC&R Staff.

Managing a bison herd is somewhat different than managing cattle. Although bison are tough animals, they require much sturdier handling equipment. In 1998, the Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge (FONC) purchased a durable Powder River handling system;* which allows for safe interactions with the herd during sorting and vet procedures. The herd is vaccinated annually for several diseases including brucellosis and has been certified as a Brucellosis Free Herd since 2003. The vet pit-tags the animals and tests their DNA for cattle genes. If cattle genes are detected, the bison are sold to non-conservation buyers.

Annually, over 50,000 people visit the FWNC&R and many of them come specifically to see the bison. This provides a multitude of opportunities for educational programming about bison. If you happen to be in the north Texas area, drop by the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge to visit one of the few places in North America with bison descended from the 19th century herds formerly 30-60 million strong.

*Special thanks to FONC for assuming ownership of the herd; while allowing FWNC&R staff to manage the herd.

Bison (Bison bison) at the FWNC&R.  Photo credit:  FWNC&R Staff

Genetic Variation in Riparian Restoration as a Tool for Climate Change Adaptation
By:  Ingrid Karklins
Staff Ecologist, Environmental Survey Consulting, Inc. Austin TX

When selecting plant species in restoration projects, the accepted standard is to use local species sources with a regional genetic memory to ensure species site adaptability (McKay et al. 2005). More broadly defined, "local" is understood as plants from similar environmental and climatic conditions (McKay et al. 2005). However, forward-thinking restoration that aims for long-term success in a changing environment may find it more appropriate to select species adapted to anticipated environmental conditions (Choi et al. 2008, Seavy et al. 2009). Gene pool variability can allow adaption to changing climate conditions without losing a population's genetic memory (Seavy et al. 2009). Because riparian ecosystems have a natural resilience (Seavy et al. 2009) and are able to adapt to changing conditions (Naiman and Décamps 1997), they offer a perfect opportunity for "pushing the envelope" of species climate adaptability.

One way to nudge riparian species genetic variability towards evolutionary change is to introduce plant species that are at the edges of a population's hydrological conditions (Seavy et al. 2009). For example, flood-adapted early colonizers can help shift variability to adapt to changes in seasonal flooding. Species adapted to dry periods can adjust a population towards periods between flood events (Seavy et al. 2009).
Young Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia)
(Photo credit:  Google images)

One of the challenges of adapting genetic resilience to climate change is bridging the gap between species seasonality and warming conditions (Seavy et al. 2009). For example, in California, the Oregon ash has bloom period variations of almost two month's difference between the northern Sacramento Valley and the lower San Joaquin River riparian zone (Seavy et al. 2009). Introducing species from the valley to riparian sites may help the ash adapt to drier conditions.

Genetic diversification in response to climate change can also be enhanced by introducing species from the warmer edge of a population's environment (Grady et al. 2011). Grady et al. (2011) found that aboveground net primary productivity at the warmer edge of a species distribution was enhanced by augmenting local populations with species from warmer climates. Species with small ranges may be unable to migrate in response to warmer, drier conditions (Catford et al. 2013). Introducing genetic variability may assist their successful migration (Grady et al. 2011).

Salicaceae species have high genetic variability due to high levels of gene flow among populations (Karrenberg et al. 2002). Future studies could consider using Salicaceae species as a testing ground for some of the previously mentioned strategies.

Photo credit:

Techniques for enhancing species genetic variation may not be as critical in urban areas. Urban riparian zones have been modified to such a high degree through hydrologic changes, warming trends, loss of indigenous species, introduction of non-native species, etc. that their new status already resembles climate change conditions. Thus climate change may not have much of impact on these ecosystems (Catford et al. 2013).

While "local" species genetic memory is important, restoration must account for diversifying species adaptability. Anticipated changing environmental conditions suggest restoration techniques should consider "pushing the envelope" of species genetic variability by introducing a gene pool that will help species adjust to climate change.


Catford, J., R. Naiman, L. Chambers, J. Roberts, M. Douglas, and P. Davies. 2013. Predicting novel riparian ecosystems in a changing climate. Ecosystems 16:382-400.

Choi, Y. D., V. M. Temperton, E. B. Allen, A. P. Grootjans, M. Halassy, R. J. Hobbs, M. A. Naeth, and K. Torok. 2008. Ecological restoration for future sustainability in a changing environment. Ecoscience 15:53-64.

Grady, K. C., S. M. Ferrier, T. E. Kolb, S. C. Hart, G. J. Allan, and T. G. Whitham. 2011. Genetic variation in productivity of foundation riparian species at the edge of their distribution: implications for restoration and assisted migration in a warming climate. Global Change Biology 17:3724-3735.

Karrenberg, S., P. J. Edwards, and J. Kollmann. 2002. The life history of Salicaceae living in the active zone of floodplains. Freshwater Biology 47:733-748.

McKay, J. K., C. E. Christian, S. Harrison, and K. J. Rice. 2005. "How local is local?"- a review of practical and conceptual issues in the genetics of restoration. Restoration Ecology 13:432-440.

Naiman, R. J. and H. Décamps. 1997. The ecology of interfaces: riparian zones. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28:621-658.

Seavy, N. E., T. Gardali, G. H. Golet, F. T. Griggs, C. A. Howell, R. Kelsey, S. L. Small, J. H. 

Viers, and J. F. Weigand. 2009. Why climate change makes riparian restoration more important than ever: recommendations for practice and research. Ecological Restoration 27:330-338.  

News You Can Use

1.  Migration Models Map

Map showing how 3,000 animal species are likely to migrate in the coming decades as climate change forces them to search for habitat - Migration Map.

2.  USFWS Final Ocelot Recovery Plan Ocelots

3.  TPWD - Texas Ecosystem Analytical Mapper  - Ecosystem Mapper

4.  Investing Our Way Out of the Global Water Crisis -  Water Crisis

Upcoming Events

1.  USFWS Restoration Webinar Series

Download schedule for monthly webinars August - December -   Restoration Webinars Schedule

A Heartfelt Thanks to the Following Organizations & Individuals for their Generous Support  of our
2015 20th Anniversary Conference!!




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!