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Timberlake Biological Field Station

Tarleton's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program
The mission of this REU program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is to increase the involvement of undergraduate students in scientific research, particularly those underrepresented students from 2-year colleges and 4-year universities with limited research opportunities. Visit the REU homepage for more information!Service Weekend 2015
The Department of Biological Sciences recently hosted a service weekend ensuring that this facility remains a vital part of TSU's commitment to outdoor education and research!Johanson's Provide Support for Tarleton Research and Academic Programs
Timberlake Ranch part of a $5 million-plus gift to Tarleton from Dr. Lamar Johanson and his wife Marilynn Timberlake Johanson.Visit Timberlake Ranch
The ranch provides an ideal setting for students to gain first hand knowledge of how nature works.  Want to bring a class to the ranch? Fill out the Timberlake Ranch Visit Request Form.

Tarleton's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program

The mission of this REU program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is to increase the involvement of undergraduate students in scientific research, particularly those underrepresented students from 2-year colleges and 4-year universities with limited research opportunities. Visit the REU homepage for more information!

Service Weekend 2015

The Department of Biological Sciences recently hosted a service weekend ensuring that this facility remains a vital part of TSU's commitment to outdoor education and research!

Johanson's Provide Support for Tarleton Research and Academic Programs

Timberlake Ranch part of a $5 million-plus gift to Tarleton from Dr. Lamar Johanson and his wife Marilynn Timberlake Johanson.

Visit Timberlake Ranch

The ranch provides an ideal setting for students to gain first hand knowledge of how nature works.  Want to bring a class to the ranch? Fill out the Timberlake Ranch Visit Request Form.

About Timberlake Ranch

Dr. Lamar and Marilynn Johanson gifted Timberlake Ranch to Tarleton State University in 2013 for the purpose of providing an outdoor classroom and research facility. Timberlake Ranch has been a working cattle ranch since 1902 when W.C. Timberlake first purchased and settled the land.

Located on the banks of the Colorado River south of Goldthwaite in Mills County, Timberlake Ranch and Biological Field Station (TBFS) provides an outdoor classroom for Tarleton students. After a short 90 minute drive from Stephenville, students are exposed to an ecological transition between the Cross Timbers and Edwards Plateau regions of central Texas. This "east-meets-west" area supports a unique mixture of species and allows ample opportunities for student involvement in research and classroom related activities.

The mission of the Biological Field Station at Timberlake Ranch is to promote education and research while emphasizing the ecological integrity of the Colorado River Basin and the diverse flora and fauna of the Cross Timbers and Edwards Plateau ecoregions.  Our vision is that, through scientific investigations conducted by respected professionals, the hydrogeology and ecological integrity of the historically important Colorado River can return to its past beauty and splendor. 

  • Education: to provide a hands-on learning experience designed to educate and excite students about the natural world.
  • Research: to act as a natural area for multidisciplinary research where both short-term and long-term projects can be conducted.

As we convert the working ranch into a long-term biological field station it is important that we focus on a wide variety of environmentally related concerns.  For example, we need to convert large pastures of coastal bermuda (Cynodon dactylon) into fields containing native vegetation, such as milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea), Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), to provide suitable habitat for quail and numerous other grassland bird species with populations that are in serious decline. This particular project provides students interested in Environmental Biology, Wildlife Management, and Environmental Sustainability with opportunities to work together to restore native habitats and create population recovery plans. 

We also need to monitor for changes in the ecological integrity of the Colorado River, especially considering a local pecan orchard is proposing to install a new in-channel dam upstream from TBFS. According to an application filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the proposed dam would create a 1,000 acre-feet impoundment with a surface area of 109 acres and a drainage area of 17,600,000 acres (27,500 square miles). This provides many opportunities for students interested in Environmental Biology, Environmental Chemistry, Hydrology, and Environmental Policy to interact to better understand the impacts the proposed dam may have on the ecological integrity of the Colorado River and its economic impact as well as the policy and procedures required for one to install an in-channel dam in Texas.

Research Focus

Cattle ranching was once a widespread and profitable business with little environmental focus. However, increasing emphasis on sustainable land and water use has helped reshape how cattle ranchers manage their resources to maximize their gain while minimizing their impact on surrounding ecological systems. Beginning summer 2018, TBFS will serve as a host site for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation. Faculty mentors from six different departments across three colleges will guide 10 undergraduate students through the scientific process as they address basic and applied issues associated with converting TBFS, currently a working cattle ranch, into a long-term research station focused on the sustainability of land and water resources. The integrated approach provides a holistic understanding of the real-world issues involved when trying to balance economic sustainability with environmental sustainability.

Located on the banks of the Colorado River south of Goldthwaite in Mills County, TBFS provides an outdoor education center for Tarleton students and surrounding school districts. After a short 90 minute drive from Stephenville, students are exposed to an ecological transition between the Cross Timbers and Edwards Plateau regions of central Texas. This "east-meets-west" ecotone supports a unique mixture of species and allows ample opportunities for student involvement in research and classroom related activities. TBFS is also a wonderful location for outdoor recreational activities such as bird watching, camping, fishing, hiking, and kayaking.

Christopher L. Higgins, Ph.D (Director, Timberlake Biological Field Station)

Donation Center

Timberlake Biological Field Station is now accepting monetary donations to help improve the infrastructure, including ADA compliant restroom facilities, a wet lab for student research and classroom related activities, student housing, and a student-centered teaching pavilion.

Donors may either use the "Give Now" button below to make an online donation (be sure to use "Timberlake" as the keyword when completing the online form), or donors can print a hardcopy of the donation form and mail their contribution to the Office of Advancement Services (mailing address at bottom of donation form).

Purple give now button

Field-based Courses

Since Fall 2013, 381 Tarleton students have visited the station and been able to gain valuable field experience to support what they are learning in the classroom. The following courses routinely use TBFS as part of the curriculum:

  • Ecology
  • Orinthology
  • Herpetology
  • Liminology
  • Mammology
  • Ichthyology
  • Environmental and Restoration Biology