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Ecoregions of Texas
Transcript of Ecoregions of Texas
Oak Wood and Prairies
Gulf Coast Prairies
Coastal Sand Plains
South Texas brush
Elevations range from 100 feet above sea level north of the coastal plane in Southeast Texas to more than 1,000 feet on higher ridges and peaks toward the western edge of the pine belt.
While rainfall can vary year to year, the Pineywoods are the wettest area of the state, with average annual rainfall ranging from 32 to 50 inches for most of the region.
Most of the Pineywoods are occupied by deep, fertile, sandy loam soils which are generally slightly or moderately acidic, with a pH level of 6.5 to 4.5. Soils can be more acidic or alkaline depending on location.
Oak wood and prairies
The prairies and lakes ecoregion is a part of Texas known for its rich soil and its rich history. It is also a place where you can find big lakes, big fish and big cities. The region faces challenges, such as supplying quality water for a large, growing population and preserving the area's native tallgrass species.
The soil here is rich, fertile, and black. Part of this region is called Blackland Prairie because of this. Once, tall prairie grasses grew all across this region but settlers built farms and produce crops on it now. Conservation biologists are trying to restore some of the prairies that wildlife depend upon for survival.
A portion of the Blackland Prairie Ecological Region of Texas extends into the eastern portions of Denton, Hill and McLennan Counties of Northcentral Texas. The region is underlain by Upper Cretaceous marine chalks, marls, limestones, and shales which gave rise to the development of the characteristic black, calcareous, alkaline, heavy clay soils. Early settlers were drawn to this region by these productive soils, gentle topography, and luxuriant native grasslands. Although historically a region of tall-grass prairies, today much of the land is devoted to cropland and other agricultural enterprises. Livestock grazing is also an important land use. Few remnant native prairie sites remain.
Gulf coast prairires
A narrow band about 60 miles wide along the Texas coast from the Louisiana border to Brownsville roughly outlines the Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes. This area is characterized by long and continual confrontations with the sea, wind and rain.
These confrontations shape this place creating a tapestry of shallow bays, estuaries, salt marshes, dunes and tidal flats. Because of this proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the plants of this region must be highly salt tolerant or halophytic.
Coastal Sand Plains
The Coastal Sand Plains of south Texas are composed of grasslands and coastal oak motts intermixed with mesquite, granjeno and salt marshes. Unstable, windblown sand produces the characteristic dunes of this ecoregion. Numerous herds of wild horses roamed the Coastal Sand Plains during the 19th century, and the area was appropriately labeled Los Llanos Mesteños (The Wild Horse Plains).
South Texas Brush Country
East of the Rio Grande River and south of the Balcones Escarpment lies a relatively unpopulated region known as the South Texas Brush Country. An average annual temperature of 73 degrees and rainfall ranging from 16 inches in the west to 30 inches in the east characterize the region.
The region is cut by arroyos and streams and is blanketed with low-growing mostly thorny vegetation. Where conditions allow, a dense understory of small trees and shrubs will develop. The distinctive woody vegetation gives rise to the name “brush country”.
The Edwards Plateau, in South Central Texas east of the Pecos River and west of the Colorado, is the southernmost unit of the Great Plains.
Its distinctive physical features, especially its lack of deep soils suitable for farming, cause the Edwards Plateau to be an outstanding grazing region of Texas. Its cattle, sheep, and goat industries are of national importance. The distribution of livestock in the region serves to indicate the various types of the natural environment, particularly as reflected in the different kinds of natural vegetation. Cattle, for instance, are grazed on the typical mesquite-shrub, short-grass areas, characterized by deeper soils.
The Texas Hill Country is located in Central Texas. The land is rolling to hilly grassland. It sits on the Edwards Plateau. A plateau is high, flat land. Over many millions of years, this plateau has been eroded into a hilly terrain. There are many springs and some steep canyons in this area.
There are also hidden, underground lakes in the Edwards Aquifer. An aquifer is an underground layer of rock or sand that captures and holds water. The underlying limestone rock of the Edwards Aquifer has many holes and caves with water running through it. Water comes to the surface as springs through cracks in the limestone. This aquifer provides drinking water for 1.5 million people, as well as for farming and wildlife habitat.
The income producing opportunities supported by this eco-region include ranching (cattle), cotton, wheat, sorghum, rangeland, oil, and game hunting.Rainfall amounts average 22 to 30 inches per year.
Most of the soils are considered neutral to alkaline. Forming under grasslands they have a high fertility, making them sought after for crop production. These soils are found ranging from the lower to the upper portions of the Rolling Plains.
Soil in the High Plains is primarily heavy, clay above an impervious caliche layer with some sand found in the eastern panhandle. Soils are alkaline throughout the area which limits the types of trees that can be grown successfully. The economy of the region is predominantly based on petroleum production and agriculture. Within the last decade, the Panhandle economy has become more diverse with additions such as services and high level technology.
Because of the elevation drop off at the edge of the Edwards Plateau as well as its location between the dry western plains and the moist prairies and woods to the east, average rainfall varies widely from 23 inches per year to 35 inches per year.
On the western edge of the Trans-Pecos near El Paso, the average annual rainfall is less than 8 inches, while on the eastern edge near Fort Stockton and Sanderson, average rainfall is around 12-15 inches per year.
The majority of the soils are alkaline and depending on the mountain range and source of parent material, the soils are either igneous or sedimentary. Caliche is common throughout the region because of the high content of calcium in the soil.
Agriculture is still strong in areas with good water. Water is a hot topic and always controversial. Pecans, cotton, lettuce, cabbage, onions, alfalfa, wheat, cantaloupe, and chilies are major crops of the area.