ACTXDEA4 Ecological Assessment - Eastern Cross Timbers Remnant

A work-in-progress ecological assessment of a 16.78 hectare (41.48 acre) Eastern Cross Timbers mosaic residing just under 8km west of the western Blackland Prairie boundary in the area, and adjacent to I-35E.

The site is largely open Prosopis-Schizachyrium-Bothriochloa-Iva savanna with areas of dense undergrowth at the ecotonal areas occurring near the south and southeast of the site as it transitions to denser woodlands of Juniperus virginiana, Diospyros virginiana, and Ulmus crassifolia.

A few small depressions at the extreme SE of the site along the drainage of the stream that cuts through the southern half are home to diverse communities of Carex tetrastachya, Typha domingensis, Juncus marginatus, and Limnosciadium pinnatum.

Drier and open upland savanna areas on the eastern half of the site are home to a newly discovered, healthy population of the G2-Imperiled Ipomoea shumardiana as well as the rare (but secure) Chenopodium pallescens.

Soils at the site are ferruginous clay loams with some areas of sandy loam all derived from The Woodbine Formation, and make for a flat topography with relief of around just 10m.

Here’s the species list for the site after just 5 months of assessment every few weeks:

  1. Acaciella angustissima
  2. Achillea millefolium
  3. Acmispon americanus var. americanus
  4. Agalinis heterophylla
  5. Allium canadense var. canadense
  6. Ambrosia psilostachya
  7. Ambrosia trifida var. texana
  8. Amphiachyris dracunculoides
  9. Andropogon ternarius
  10. Anthoxanthum odoratum
  11. Asclepias viridis
  12. Avena fatua
  13. Baccharis neglecta
  14. Bifora americana
  15. Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica
  16. Bothriochloa laguroides subsp. torreyana
  17. Bradburia pilosa
  18. Briza minor
  19. Bromus japonicus
  20. Carex tetrastachya
  21. Castilleja indivisa
  22. Cenchrus spinifex
  23. Cercis canadensis var. canadensis
  24. Chamaecrista fasciculata
  25. Chenopodium pallescens
  26. Chloris verticillata
  27. Cirsium altissimum
  28. Cirsium texanum
  29. Coleataenia anceps subsp. rhizomata
  30. Coreopsis tinctoria
  31. Crocanthemum rosmarinifolium
  32. Croton capitatus
  33. Croton lindheimeri
  34. Croton lindheimerianus
  35. Croton monanthogynus
  36. Cyperus acuminatus
  37. Cyperus bidens
  38. Cyperus echinacea
  39. Cyperus entrerianus
  40. Cyperus esculentus
  41. Cyperus lupulinus subsp. lupulinus
  42. Cyperus surinamensis
  43. Daucus carota
  44. Daucus pusillus
  45. Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. scribnerianum
  46. Diospyros virginiana
  47. Echinochloa crus-galli
  48. Eleocharis montevidensis
  49. Eragrostis cilianensis
  50. Eragrostis curtipedicellata
  51. Eragrostis spectabilis
  52. Erigeron strigosus
  53. Eriochloa contracta
  54. Eupatorium serotinum
  55. Euphorbia bicolor
  56. Euphorbia davidii
  57. Euphorbia maculata
  58. Euphorbia prostrata
  59. Euphorbia serpens
  60. Fissidens bryoides
  61. Fraxinus albicans
  62. Fraxinus pennsylvanica
  63. Gaillardia aestivalis var. aestivalis
  64. Gaillardia pulchella
  65. Geranium dissectum
  66. Glandularia bipinnatifida
  67. Gleditsia triacanthos
  68. Grindelia ciliata
  69. Gutierrezia texana
  70. Helenium amarum var. amarum
  71. Helianthus annuus
  72. Heterotheca latifolia
  73. Hexasepalum teres
  74. Hordeum pusillum
  75. Hypericum drummondii
  76. Hypericum perforatum
  77. Ilex vomitoria
  78. Ipomoea cordatotriloba
  79. Ipomoea shumardiana (CR)
  80. Iva angustifolia
  81. Iva annua
  82. Juncus effusus
  83. Juncus marginatus
  84. Juncus tenuis
  85. Juncus torreyi
  86. Juniperus virginiana
  87. Lactuca ludoviciana
  88. Lactuca serriola
  89. Lathyrus hirsutus
  90. Lespedeza cuneata
  91. Liatris punctata var. mucronata
  92. Limnosciadium pinnatum
  93. Linum sulcatum
  94. Lolium multiflorum
  95. Lonicera sempervirens
  96. Lythrum alatum subsp. lanceolatum
  97. Mimosa quadrivalvis var. platycarpa
  98. Mollugo verticillata
  99. Monarda citriodora var. citriodora
  100. Monarda punctata var. intermedia
  101. Nekemias arborea
  102. Nephroia carolina
  103. Neptunia lutea
  104. Oenothera speciosa
  105. Opuntia macrorhiza
  106. Oxalis dillenii
  107. Panicum coloratum
  108. Paspalum dilatatum
  109. Paspalum floridanum
  110. Paspalum notatum
  111. Paspalum pubiflorum var. pubiflorum
  112. Passiflora incarnata
  113. Pediomelum tenuiflorum
  114. Phalaris caroliniana
  115. Physalis mollis var. mollis
  116. Pistacia chinensis
  117. Plantago aristata
  118. Polypogon monspeliensis
  119. Polypremum procumbens
  120. Polytaenia texana
  121. Prosopis glandulosa
  122. Prunella vulgaris
  123. Prunus angustifolia
  124. Prunus mexicana
  125. Ptilimnium capillaceum
  126. Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus
  127. Quercus fusiformis
  128. Quercus shumardii
  129. Rhus glabra
  130. Rotala ramosior
  131. Rubus oklahomus
  132. Rubus pascuus
  133. Rubus trivialis
  134. Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima
  135. Rumex crispus
  136. Rumex hastatulus
  137. Sabatia campestris
  138. Salix nigra
  139. Schizachyrium scoparium
  140. Scleria triglomerata
  141. Setaria parviflora
  142. Sideroxylon lanuginosum
  143. Sisyrinchium minus
  144. Sixalix atropurpurea
  145. Smilax bona-nox
  146. Solanum dimidiatum
  147. Solanum elaeagnifolium
  148. Solanum rostratum
  149. Solidago altissima
  150. Sorghum halepense
  151. Sphenopholis obtusata
  152. Symphyotrichum divaricatum
  153. Symphyotrichum ericoides
  154. Torilis arvensis
  155. Toxicodendron radicans subsp. negundo
  156. Triadica sebifera
  157. Tridens albescens
  158. Trifolium campestre
  159. Triodanis biflora
  160. Typha domingensis
  161. Ulmus alata
  162. Ulmus americana
  163. Ulmus crassifolia
  164. Valerianella radiata
  165. Verbena halei
  166. Vitis mustangensis
  167. Weissia controversa
  168. Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
  169. Zeltnera texensis

See the images below for more detailed info on substrate and topography of the site:

My observation data-points for plants at the site pulled from iNat, 655 points of 162 species over a 5 month period. From my first visit of the site on May 11th, 2020 to October 12, 2020, my most recent. Some species not uploaded to iNat but present at the site are in the species list.

Overview of the site topography, 1m intervals at 20 levels.

Overview of the site topography, 1m intervals at 50 levels.

The highest area of the site, a low hill, 1m intervals at 20 levels.

A small depression, 1m intervals at 20 levels.

Soil sections per USGS.

46- Images of the surface layer within section 46 of the soil map after removing a clump of Panicum coloratum. Justin fine sandy loam, 1-3 percent slopes. Well-drained, medium runoff with a moderately slow permeability and easy root penetration. Slightly acid surface to mildly alkaline around 33-80 inches down. This section stretches across the site from Prosopis savanna into open clearing with a diversity of grasses (Schizachyrium scoparium dominating) and to the east into Diospyros woodland.

Open grassland within section 46.

60- The landscape within section 60, Navo clay loam, 1-3 percent slopes. A slightly acid surface becoming moderately alkaline around 72-80 inches deep. Well draining with slow permeability, deep root zone, and medium runoff. This section stretches across the site from west to east but is part of open grassland and savanna throughout, with Schizachyrium scoparium, Juniperus virginiana, Iva angustifolia, and Prosopis glandulosa dominating.

Iva angustifolia covering the surface of the soil in September within section 60.

84- The landscape within section 84, Wilson clay loam, 1-3 percent slopes. Slightly acid surface layer to moderately alkaline around 43-52 inches deep. Poorly drained, with slow runoff and permeability. One of the more diverse areas of the site, with runoff coming from low slopes to the north and south, allowing for a high amount of available moisture. This soil section at the site follows a stream for most of its length before the stream halts to small depressions in the lower pocket of 46. After the stream, the rest of the area within 84 is open grassland with Rubus pascuus canes arching over much of the area, as well as plenty of Gaillardia aestivalis, Passiflora incarnata, and Heterotheca latifolia.

Savanna within section 84.

11- Image from Google Earth of the landscape within section 11 on the soil map, Birome fine sandy loam, 1-3 percent slopes. Well-drained, rapid-runoff soil with a relatively limited root zone. Neutral at the surface becoming strongly acidic around 60 inches deep. The foreground is mowed somewhat haphazardly, but the tree line in the background of mostly Juniperus virginiana is home to Chenopodium pallescens.

Section 11 profile from the USDA Denton Co. soil survey.

Posted on 11 January, 2021 08:40 by aidancampos aidancampos


This is incredibly thorough and valuable work.

Posted by cfa over 3 years ago

Thanks so much @clifton_albrecht! I’ve been very happy to know that so many people see the value in this kind of work.

Posted by aidancampos over 3 years ago
Posted by aidancampos over 3 years ago

Aidan, this is really good. Do you know who owns this land? I found it on google maps ('32.0%22N+97%C2%B001'28.2%22W/@33.0751678,-97.0270022,1835m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x0!7e2!8m2!3d33.0755458!4d-97.0244942), and on a street view on Mcgee Lane, I see it's available for commercial purchase... I'd be very curious if there's any interest from the city of Denton in this sort of purchase, especially if it's known about the ecological significance of this piece of land (using your species list and assessment as evidence).

A few of those picture links are broken for me... Nonetheless, this is really good! Well done, Aidan. :)

Tagging a few others to take a look at this journal entry too: @baxter-slye @gwaithir @aguilita @naturemom @jblinde

Posted by sambiology over 3 years ago

Really nice work Aidan! I bet Brand and Diane will be interested to pass this on to their contacts with the City.

Did I miss this part...what made you conduct this survey?

Posted by baxter-slye over 3 years ago

Also, I think this is Lewisville, right?

Posted by baxter-slye over 3 years ago

This is in Lewisville. I drive by it all the time. I often have this thought: "I wonder if there are any good dragonflies or snakes in there?". You can see the now defunct Zone Action Park on FM 407 in the lower right hand corner of the photo.

Posted by jblinde over 3 years ago

No idea what’s going on with the pictures, I have them uploaded to Flickr and all set to public, I’ll see if I can go through them soon and fix the links.

I’m not sure who owns the land, there’s some dumping there from the adjacent companies (don’t know them either) but it would be great if there was interest gained from the City of Lewisville. The site is also home to at least a few coyotes and many cottontails.

As for snakes and dragonflies, I haven’t personally seen any snakes though I’d imagine there are plenty. In the spring there are small ephemeral wetlands from the drainage ditches that run through the site to the SE behind the Zone Action Park, McDonald’s & QuikTrip. I’ve seen a good amount of dragonflies there but I haven’t been there yet in early spring when the flora is surely at climax diversity and the grassy wetlands are buzzing.

I have a project set up for my personal surveying of the flora at this site, which you can see the collection of images I’ve taken there of the different plants:

Lastly, a link to the write-up I did on what made me conduct this work:

I plan on doing many more like this in the future, and expanding upon this one once spring comes around!

Posted by aidancampos over 3 years ago

Also, adding a link to the Facebook post where I originally compiled this info since not all the images are working here:

Posted by aidancampos over 3 years ago

Info from Denton CAD shows ownership of the 42 acres comprised of these 7 parcels split between 6 companies, so the entire area is privately owned. Largest stakeholder (32/42 acres) is owned by a company called Lewisville 33 Partners. Oddly, the only properties this company owns in Denton County are the 3 parcels represented by their 32 acres of this project area, all 3 of which they have held since 2005. These 7 parcels are all zoned light industrial by the city of Lewisville, same zoning as the other parcels off I35 x Justin rd.

Its really good that you got a solid database of species before this area gets developed. I hope folks can use this info for future restoration/reconstruction projects when we finally decide bulldozing everything isn't sustainable.

Posted by gwaithir over 3 years ago

Ok my comment sounds a little dismal. With the data you've collected, you have a strong argument for why the City of Lewisville should take an interest in acquiring this land. There are adjacency/infill factors that work in your favor like the trail the runs across Mcgee, and the property owners would have to work around the utility easement crossing these parcels as well. There may be an appetite to put portions of this land under a conservation easement dedicated to the city of Lewisville.

Posted by gwaithir over 3 years ago

I am interested in doing similar assessments around the streams in Denton, as we have in our development code conditions (depending on stream size) that allow for 50-500ft of easement along our waterways as well as protections for our ESA's. There is a lot of opportunity for connected wildlife corridors along these easements, so I hope to catalog the existing biodiversity of these sites and start building an image of what's there and what's missing. @baxter-slye Future ecology lab project? hahah @aidancampos Your goals and purpose article is really helpful.

Posted by gwaithir over 3 years ago

It could be a future project!! Or your Master's degree thesis, Brand.

Posted by baxter-slye over 3 years ago

Looks like this property is getting bulldozed and developed for more housing, aka another giant concrete eye-sore on the land.

Posted by aidancampos almost 3 years ago


Wish I had some words of solace, but alas, I don't. :-/ Do know that all of those iNat observations act as historic memories of what 'was' there. @scottking has an amazing blog entry about this sort of loss:

Any chance of doing some plant rescues before development starts? I've done a few where I just collect EVERYTHING -- even quite a bit of top soil.

Sorry for your loss, Aidan.

Posted by sambiology almost 3 years ago

With so many sites like these this outcome is inevitable, but I’ll definitely be doing plenty of seed collection and rescues for the rare species there, namely I. shumardiana. If I collect tubers I’m fairly certain I can get them going and reach out to LLELA to find some suitable locations on the property to transplant when ready. Most of the other species there I know to exist in protected areas like LLELA or other nearby parks which is a huge plus. The I. shumardiana of course exists outside of there but is the only population in the county and probably the healthiest of the species in the world.

Posted by aidancampos almost 3 years ago

Let me know how I can help. I can set you up with the volunteers and Richard at LLELA. I also have greenhouse space at UNT. Do you have Richard's contact info?

Aidan, we could even have UNT SER students come help with plant collection. Most are not really answering calls for volunteers right now, but some may be able to help.

Do you know the timeline so we know how long we have? Also, any mammals (like black-tailed jack rabbits) by chance that need a rescue? Or do they have outlets to escape to?

Posted by baxter-slye almost 3 years ago

Yikes. Unanimous approval on the zoning change too + complaints about not enough parking.. double yikes. It sucks to see a place you've fallen in love with go like this. I've worked on development stuff like this for a bit and can help out where you want to take this- access permissions, liability waivers, rescue protocols, volunteer organizing...

Posted by gwaithir almost 3 years ago

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