Year 1 report for ‘Conserving Texas Biodiversity: Status, Trends, and Conservation Planning for Fishes of Greatest Conservation Need’

Citation:

Hendrickson, Dean A, Gary P Garrett, Ben J Labay, Adam E Cohen, and Melissa Casarez. 2016. Year 1 report for ‘Conserving Texas Biodiversity: Status, Trends, and Conservation Planning for Fishes of Greatest Conservation Need’. State Wildlife Grant Program. Austin, Texas, U.S.A.: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1 - 177.

Report Date:

2016

Abstract:

Substantive progress was made on all major Project Activities in this first year:Activity 1. Coordinate and Facilitate Science and Conservation Actions for Conserving Texas Biodiversity - We expanded and strengthened UT-TPWD coordination, transitioning the relationship between these partners into a much more collaborative one than was previously realized. The flow of data between TPWD and the Fishes of Texas Project (supported in part by this project) has become much more bi-directional. Many newly collected TPWD specimens, agency databases, legacy data products and reports, and feedback from resource managers are now beginning to contribute substantively to growth and diversity (now including non-specimen-vouchered records) of data served through the FoTX Project’s websites. Work on cleaning and normalizing of FoTX’s online specimen-vouchered database continued, and the updated FoTX occurrence and distribution data are being actively used. Most recently they were used by this project, together with expert (TPWD, UT and others’) opinions, to develop recommendations on conservation status of native fishes of Texas’ Species of Greatest Conservation Need for TPWD’s consideration in anticipated updates to the Texas Conservation Action Plan. Within two months of this report, a new and substantially larger and improved version of the FoTX website/database and related collection of images, field notes, and ancillary datasets, will be formally announced. Activity 2. Identify Priority Geographic Management Units for Conserving Fishes of Greatest Conservation Need - We used FoTX data in a systematic conservation area prioritization analysis to identify Native Fish Conservation Areas (NFCAs) for large portions of Texas where such comprehensive planning had not been previously carried out. Updated and new FoTX data for all Texas fish Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) were used in production of newly improved Species Distribution Models for input into this planning process, and the results of the planning exercise have already been integrated by TPWD into management prioritizations of both those species and the resultant NFCAs. Activity 3. Develop Monitoring and Conservation Plans for Native Fish Conservation Areas - Monitoring and conservation plans were delivered to TPWD for all NFCAs identified in Activity 2. Activity 4. Conduct Field-Based Surveys Detailed Biodiversity Assessments (i.e. Bioblitzing), and Citizen-Based Monitoring - Field surveys with detailed biodiversity assessments (“bioblitzes”) and citizen-based monitoring were conducted in three areas selected collaboratively by TPWD and FoTX Project staff from within the identified NFCAs: Nueces River headwaters, Big Cypress Bayou basin, and Village Creek basin. Along with this field effort, FoTX Project staff developed and circulated guidelines and best practices, and provided training for citizen-based monitoring that leverages iNaturalist for capture and reporting of photo-vouchered occurrence records in ways that will help assure scientifically useful data are obtained. All specimens acquired during these field efforts, and from many other routine specimen acquisitions from across the state (1845 total records/jars of specimens), were cataloged in the UT Fish Collection database. From there, these new records will soon be fed into GBIF, VertNet, FishNet2 and other major online data aggregators, including the online Fishes of Texas database.

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