Clear Lake - Ecological Services
Southwest Region
"Conserving the Nature of America"

Last updated: May 8, 2012


Austin's Woods
Austin’s Woods - Forested Wetlands
(Photo by David Rosen)

The coastal bottomland hardwood forests of the upper Texas Coast adjacent to the Brazos, Colorado, and San Bernard Rivers, known as Austin’s Woods (formerly known as Columbia Bottomlands) comprised an estimated 700,000 acres at the beginning of the last century. This area has been reduced to about 175,000 acres, and the remaining tracts are continuously lost, or degraded through development, overgrazing, human disturbance, and invasive plant species. Surveys in representative tracts of Austin’s Woods have yielded 237 species of birds, and radar data shows hundreds of thousands of transient individuals can occur in these forests during migration. The recognition of the importance of coastal bottomland hardwood forests along the Gulf of Mexico as stopover and breeding habitat for Nearctic-Neotropical migratory birds has emphasized the need for a deeper understanding of the ecological functioning and factors regulating biodiversity of these forests.

Photo of water hickory by David Rosen
Water Hickory
(Photo by David Rosen)

Research by staff at the Clear Lake Ecological services field office, with support from Texas Nature Conservancy and Botanical Research Center, is currently focused on quantitative study of Austin’s Woods forest plant community composition and dynamics. The purpose of this study is to produce quantitative data to facilitate plant community classification and attributes, species composition tables, floristics, and species diversity indices of and old growth Austin’s Woods forest. This study is critically important to current forest bird research, and will fill data gaps in restoration, management, and conservation efforts of the Austin’s Woods ecosystem.


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