Fort Worth, TX, United States
Fort Worth, TX, United States

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Vanderplank S.E.,Botanical Research Institute of Texas | Mata S.,Society of Native Plants of Baja California | Ezcurra E.,University of California at Riverside
BioScience | Year: 2014

Natural and cultural heritage sites frequently have nonoverlapping or even conflicting conservation priorities, because human impacts have often resulted in local extirpations and reduced levels of native biodiversity. Over thousands of years, the predictable winter rains of northwestern Baja California have weathered calcium from the clam shells deposited by indigenous peoples in middens along the coast. The release of this calcium has changed soil properties, remediated sodic and saline soils, and resulted in a unique microhabitat that harbors plant assemblages very different from those of the surrounding matrix. Native plant biodiversity and landscape heterogeneity are significantly increased on the anthropogenic soils of these shell middens. Protection of this cultural landscape in the Anthropocene will further both archeological and biodiversity conservation in these anthropogenic footprints from the Holocene. Along these coasts, natural and cultural heritage priorities are overlapping and mutually beneficial. © 2014 The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

News Article | December 19, 2016

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT®), Tarleton State University and the Texas Department of Transportation are teaming together to document rare plant species that may potentially exist within TxDOT rights-of-way in 23 counties in the Waco and Austin districts of Central Texas. Through a TxDOT grant, Tarleton and BRIT will research and build habitat maps for 57 of the 81 Edwards Plateau rare plant species. The work includes identifying, documenting and mapping areas where these rare species most likely occur. TxDOT will use these maps to improve the department’s ability to protect the rare species, which grow along Texas highways. For several of these species, roadsides represent a significant portion of the known populations. Conserving these species in their roadside habitat is critical to their survival. For many of these species, the difference in land management practices between roadsides and the adjacent private properties are so great that plants thrive in road rights-of-way and are completely absent on the other sides of the fence. “This project is important from two standpoints,” says Dr. Darrel Murray, adjunct professor in Tarleton’s Department of Wildlife, Sustainability and Ecosystem Sciences. “First, from a collaboration standpoint, this project fits into the intent of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Tarleton State University and BRIT in January of this year promoting common interests in education, research and service to the public. Second, from a conservation standpoint, if we locate rare plant species within TxDOT rights-of-way, these areas may be managed differently, with less disturbance, or with some form of mitigation.” BRIT researchers will examine specimens of these plants on file in BRIT’s Fort Worth-based herbarium, noting species “habitat” and the geographical locations where the plants were found. Researchers also will study the plants’ environmental requirements including ecological associations, or what other plant species or communities these plants are known to coexist with, to better understand plant habitat needs and preferences. The data compiled from the study then will be sent to a Tarleton Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist to do the mapping, highlighting potential locations where these plants most likely occur. Sites where potential species locations and TxDOT rights-of-way overlap will be of specific concern. Where these exist, BRIT and Tarleton researchers will make site visits for surveys to locate any of the rare plant species that may exist there. “This important work highlights BRIT’s botanical research capabilities and shows the value of the Institute’s million-plant specimen herbarium, says BRIT Research Botanist Kim Taylor. “The TxDOT grant allows both BRIT and Tarleton State University to help find and protect Texas’ rare and endangered plants.” The research is expected to be completed, including site visits, by August 2017. You can follow BRIT researchers on Facebook at:

The associate professor of landscape architecture recently returned to The University of Texas at Arlington following a semester of faculty development leave that included an important collaboration with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth. There, Hopman worked with BRIT to hone his theory of polyculture planting - landscapes that incorporate different species of plants together that thrive in the same setting, and combine and grow together in unpredictable but pleasing ways. Hopman said his research showed that polycultures use a strategy of timesharing, which allows multiple species to coexist because they're not in competition with the same resources at the same time. In addition, polycultures provide reservoirs of mutually beneficial fungi and bacteria that can have a positive effect on environmental factors such as oxygen production and can attract a richer diversity of insect species. "Polyculture is a better system for the plants and a better system for the people who planted those plants," Hopman said. "By selecting species with similar growing requirements and different growing seasons, we can maximize the use of space and the aesthetic impact of the plants under cultivation." For his current UTA campus project, Hopman is using a competitive $5,000 grant from the College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs to purchase plants, compost and mulch for that strip of land between the CAPPA building and metered parking spots along Nedderman Drive. CAPPA Dean Nan Ellin said she expects that Hopman's research will lead to smarter, more cost-effective planting for sustainable urban communities, work aligned with one of the core themes of UTA's Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact. "Just as the sharing economy - such as airbnb and uber - is transforming business, so Professor Hopman's sharing ecology can transform the environment, improving both productive and ornamental landscapes," Ellin said. "The benefits of this research are substantial, especially given the rapid pace of development in North Texas and the resulting decrease of biodiversity." Hopman was asked by BRIT and the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens to assist with the redesign of one of the bio-swales in their parking lot. Becky Grimmer, BRIT's vice president for finance and administration, said they partnered with Hopman to bridge the gap between plants as a "pure ecological function" and a more aesthetically pleasing landscape. "Professor Hopman designed a test polyculture of plants that will provide the needed function for the storm water management system and also retain more aesthetically pleasing components." Hopman joined UTA in 2004 and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. His research interests include critical regionalism and landscape aesthetics, the interpretation and design of regional ecological communities in complex cultural landscapes and computer visualization. Hopman designed and installed the first extensive green roof in North Central Texas in 2008 atop the UTA Life Sciences Building and he was the principal investigator for the study of the implementation of the U.S. Green Building Council Sustainable Sites Initiative certification at UTA's Green at College Park. In 2012, the green space became one of the first three projects worldwide to receive Sustainable Sites certification. For students, the recent plantings are opportunities. Molly Plummer, a landscape architecture graduate student, and Veronica Proana, an interdisciplinary studies graduate who plans to enroll in UTA's landscape architecture program, both said they were attracted to Hopman's research by their desire to care for the ecological environment. "Outdoor space affects the human condition," Plummer said. "Polyculture plantings make more sense than monoculture plantings. It's logical but it's also important to the ecology."

Terborgh J.,Duke University | Alvarez-Loayza P.,Duke University | Dexter K.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Cornejo F.,Botanical Research Institute of Texas | Carrasco C.,Agrarian National University
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2011

1.The term 'dispersal limitation' represents two distinct component processes: the number of seeds produced (fecundity) and the spatial pattern of the seed rain (distribution). We present a quantitative evaluation of these component processes of dispersal limitation for a tropical forest tree community. 2.Using a regularly spaced grid of 289 seed traps (0.5m2 each), we monitored the seed rain into 1.44ha of upper Amazonian floodplain forest for 6years whilst concurrently monitoring sapling recruitment in a 0.81-ha subplot centred within the seed-trapping grid. This arrangement allowed us to compare the spatial pattern of seed rain with that of sapling recruitment. 3.We endeavoured to distinguish between undispersed and dispersed seeds by applying a series of criteria to seeds collected in the traps and by removing from certain analyses all seeds that fell under reproductive conspecifics. Gross fecundity of 30 common species that contribute to the advanced regeneration was uniformly low and the rain of dispersed seeds was lower still, being <1.0m-2year-1 in every case. 4.The rain of dispersed seeds with respect to conspecific reproductives closely matched the recruitment of saplings, whereas gross seed rain (all seeds, including undispersed seeds) did not. 5.Synthesis.'Dispersal limitation' in this faunally intact Amazonian forest is primarily attributable to a scant rain of dispersed seeds, i.e. fecundity limitation, whereas the distribution of dispersed seeds, being random for most species, appears adequate. Evidence from this and earlier research at the same site indicates that the per-capita success of dispersed seeds is many times higher than that of undispersed seeds. Thus, seed dispersal kernels that do not distinguish between dispersed and undispersed seeds are likely to be biologically misleading. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society.

Swamy V.,Duke University | Terborgh J.,Duke University | Dexter K.G.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Best B.D.,Duke University | And 2 more authors.
Ecology Letters | Year: 2011

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 195-201 Understanding demographic transitions may provide the key to explain the high diversity of tropical tree communities. In a faunally intact Amazonian forest, we compared the spatial distribution of saplings of 15 common tree species with patterns of conspecific seed fall, and examined the seed-to-sapling transition in relation to locations of conspecific trees. In all species, the spatial pattern of sapling recruitment bore no resemblance to predicted distributions based on the density of seed fall. Seed efficiency (the probability of a seed producing a sapling) is strongly correlated with distance from large conspecific trees, with a >30-fold multiplicative increase between recruitment zones that are most distant vs. proximal to conspecific adults. The striking decoupling of sapling recruitment and conspecific seed density patterns indicates near-complete recruitment failure in areas of high seed density located around reproductive adults. Our results provide strong support for the spatially explicit predictions of the Janzen-Connell hypothesis. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

Tobler M.W.,Botanical Research Institute of Texas | Tobler M.W.,Texas A&M University | Janovec J.P.,Botanical Research Institute of Texas | Cornejo F.,Botanical Research Institute of Texas
Biotropica | Year: 2010

The lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris is the largest herbivore in the Neotropics and feeds on a large quantity of fruits, often ingesting the seeds and defecating them intact. Seed dispersal by the lowland tapir in the southwestern Amazon was studied by examining seeds from 135 dung samples collected between 2005 and 2007. Seeds of a total of 122 plant species were identified, representing 68 genera and 33 families. The species accumulation curve showed that more species can be expected with further sampling. Many species (45%) were only encountered once, and only 10 percent of all species were found in >10 samples, indicating that the lowland tapir is an opportunistic forager. Seed diversity showed a clear seasonal pattern and was highly correlated with fruit availability. Seed diameter ranged from <1 to 25 mm with 81 percent <10 mm diam. The size distribution of seeds found in lowland tapir dung generally followed that of seeds found in the forest, but had a lower proportion of seeds in the smallest size class (<2.5 mm) and a larger proportion found in the largest size class (20-25 mm). The diversity of seeds encountered in dung of the lowland tapir in this study was much higher than in previous studies. We conclude that the lowland tapir is a potential disperser for a large number of plant species, including many that previously have been thought to be dispersed only by large primates. © 2009 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2009 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

de Carvalho Jr. A.A.,Institute Pesquisas Jardim Botanico Do Rio Of Janeiro | Hennen J.F.,Botanical Research Institute of Texas
Mycologia | Year: 2010

Ten new teleomorphic species, two status novus taxa and two new combinations in the genus Prospodium are established. The following anamorphs, all closely related to the genus Prospodium, also are proposed: the genus Canasta, its two new species and a new combination, three new cominations for the genus Uredo. © 2010 by The Mycological Society of America.

Swadek R.K.,Botanical Research Institute of Texas
Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas | Year: 2012

Phemeranthus calcaneus is reported here as new to Texas. It was discovered in a limestone glade in Parker County, north of Weatherford, in a habitat similar to that in which is it found in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

A 3-day meeting, digitization workshop, and best practices session will be held from 8 to 10 April 2011 for 36 curators of plant research collections (herbaria) throughout Texas and Oklahoma. This event will strengthen operational infrastructure within the TORCH (Texas Oklahoma Regional Consortium of Herbaria) collections network and will train herbarium curators in digitization methods and cybertechnologies. Three primary outcomes are anticipated from this event: 1) Enhancement of the organizational functionality of TORCH to coordinate digitization efforts among regional herbaria, 2) Hands-on learning among participating curators and students in biodiversity informatics tools, digitization techniques, and national initiatives involving data sharing and imaging of natural history collections, and 3) Development of best practice standards for the TORCH community. This workshop will prepare herbarium curators to collaborate and function as a regional node for national biological collections digitization initiatives.

Workshop attendance supported by travel stipends is a necessary incentive to ensure sufficient input from regional curators and graduate students, thus engendering maximum support for and commitment to future TORCH activities. Development of a collaborative management plan and work strategy for herbarium digitization and data mobilization is imperative so that TORCH may contribute to federal initiatives such as the U.S. Biological Collections Resource/ Network Integrated Collections Alliance. The planned digitization and sharing of data contained in the 3.5 million herbarium specimens in Texas and Oklahoma will increase substantially the synthetic value of these data for biologists, ecologists, resource managers, and policy makers at the national and international level.

News Article | February 15, 2017

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT®) is pleased to announce the winners in its 2017 International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing competition. The platinum medal goes to Yealands Family Wines (Yealands) of Marlborough, New Zealand, based on the winery’s on-going programs that address the three elements of sustainability: environmental, economic, social – and of course, how well the wine itself tastes. Yealands’ achievements in sustainability include being the world’s first winery certified carboNZeroCertTM as well as operating New Zealand’s largest solar array: generating over 411 kilowatts of power while offsetting 82 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2). Other innovative sustainable programs include: wind-powered energy; using a flock of miniature Babydoll sheep to graze in between vine rows reducing the need for mechanical mowing; installing floating solar-powered lighting in its wetlands which attract grass grub beetles thereby reducing the need for chemical pesticides while protecting the grapevines; and burning vine pruning instead of propane gas thus eliminating over 180 tons of CO2 per year. “Yealands’ list of sustainable programs is long and impressive. That takes commitment and vision,” said Ed Schneider, BRIT's president and director. “Peter Yealands’ goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable winegrower could only be slightly upstaged by the quality of his wines.” Established in 2008, Yealands Family Wines is located in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough and is New Zealand's most coastal vineyard. It is part of the Yealands Wine Group which was formed in 2011 when Yealands Estate acquired Hawke’s Bay boutique winery, Crossroads, and The Crossings. The combined entity is now one of the largest privately-owned wine companies in New Zealand, with a global reach of more than 70 international markets. When submitting for the competition, wineries are asked to provide a self-assessment of their organization's accomplishments in sustainable winegrowing, winemaking, and ecopreneural/social responsibility practices. They describe their organization's conservation efforts in the field and in operations; how waste is avoided, how it is reclaimed, and how the winery extends conservation efforts to its customers. They also are required to submit a bottle of wine for a tasting by the judging committee. Competition for BRIT’s 2017 international award began July, 2016, when wineries submitted applications documenting their sustainable programs relating to environmental, economic, and social aspects of grape growing, and wine production along with their wine samples. Because the BRIT award is the only international award of its kind, it is of primary interest to wineries which care deeply about the environment and are taking a leading role in their community/region/country by implementing sustainable practices. Sustainable winegrowing programs are, by nature, ongoing, so a key part of each program is its continual improvement process. As a non-profit, international plant research and knowledge sharing organization, BRIT offers this award to help raise interest and awareness of the value plants bring to our lives and the need for biodiversity. Presentation of the platinum award to Yealands Family Wines will be made on Thursday, March 30, 2017 during the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival at the W. R. Watt Arena in Fort Worth and will feature a first ever, 1,000-person toast to the winner. BRIT’s 2018 sustainable winegrowing competition begins May 1, 2017, with the competition’s Call for Entries news release and the 2018 application posted on the BRIT web site, The submission deadline is July 31, 2017.

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