Tarleton’s Timberlake Biological Field Station yields biodiversity


Monday, July 15, 2019

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Volunteers from the iNaturalist community working in concert with professional scientists identified almost 1,100 species of plants and animals during a recent three-day study at Tarleton State University’s Timberlake Biological Field Station.

The 18 participants, led by Dr. Russell Pfau, professor of biological sciences at Tarleton, included citizen scientists from as far away as Dallas, San Antonio and Lexington, Texas., who came to explore the diverse flora and fauna associated with TBFS.

The volunteers made 5,379 observations that resulted in identifying 1,094 species. The biodiversity documented included 38 species of ants, bees and wasps, 168 species of beetles, 37 species of birds, 268 species of butterflies and moths, 31 species of dragonflies and damselflies, 41 species of flies, 245 species of plants, 17 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 47 species of spiders.

The observations help researchers understand why species are found where they are and help explain underlying factors involved in determining their geographic distribution.

“The ultimate goal is to have students, faculty and citizen scientists work toward a more complete inventory of biodiversity at the field station,” said TBFS director Christopher Higgins. “Such information is critical in identifying future research needs as well as providing empirical data for several long-term research projects currently underway. Eventually the plan is to extend our footprint to encompass a broader, biogeographic focus on the diversity of life.”

Dr. Higgins, a Tarleton biology professor, said conserving biodiversity is important for a number of reasons, including the protection of water resources and biological resources and for the social benefits it provides.

The Timberlake Biological Field Station was established in 2015 to advance environmental research, engage students in scientific discovery, and promote stewardship of the natural world. The vision is to be a model field station focused on education, outreach and research associated with the ecological integrity of the Colorado River and the diverse flora and fauna of the Cross Timbers and Edwards Plateau ecoregions of Texas.

Tarleton, founding member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven education marked by academic innovation and a dedication to transform today’s scholars into tomorrow’s leaders. It offers degree programs to more than 13,000 students at Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online, emphasizing real-world learning experiences that address societal needs while maintaining its core values of tradition, integrity, civility, excellence, leadership and service.

Contact: Phil Riddle, News and Information Specialist
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A founding member of The Texas A&M System, Tarleton State is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of nearly 17,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.