Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.81
Liaison Christa Rieck
Submission Date Jan. 4, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Houston
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Melissa Halstead
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance?:

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

The University of Houston Coastal Center is a designated by Texas legislature as the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education. This habitat is highly endangered, with less than one tenth of one percent remaining. It contains 300 acres of coastal tall grass prairie.The UHCC prairie has a high plant diversity and so is considered more valuable than other prairie properties in Texas that may be larger but do not have high plant diversity.

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on institution-owned or –managed land?:

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

Dr. Kerri Crawford is conducting research at UHCC regarding techniques to optimize sand due restoration along the Texas Gulf Coast. Sand dunes are natural barriers that have an important role in the ecosystem to prevent flood prevention and eco-tourism. Recently, many sand dunes have been lost due to development and natural degradation. Dr. Crawford's research focuses on the ecosystems response to soil microbial amendments and plant diversity during restoration and possibly increasing the process. More information can be found here: https://thecrawfordlab.com/research/

Ongoing assessments of wildlife habitat within the prairie include common birds, dragonflies and damselflies, which can be found here: http://www.eih.uh.edu/about/species/

A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

The Coastal Center itself is an identified environmentally sensitive area known as a "coastal tallgrass prairie" with less than one tenth of one percent of the original habitat remaining according to the United States Geological Survey Research Program.

While much of the native animal life may not be directly threatened, studies of biodiversity and resiliency of their food webs directly gauge the ecological health of this threatened ecosystem. For example populations of Prokelisia sp. planthopper, Chaetopsis sp. fly, and Conocephalus aigialus, are not threatened, but the substrate (coastal grasses) supporting their food webs is. Thus, by generating assessments of these arthropods food webs, the Coastal Center is able to gauge the impact of various detrimental ecological events. Again, links to publications of these studies are available below.

A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

So long as the Coastal Center continues operations the resulting studies and environmental stewardship of this highly threatened area will continue. Perhaps one of the most long term programs to positively affect the coastal prairie habitat is the continual stocking and redistributing of seeds from threatened plant species in the center. These seeds are stored for coastal center use in replanting or distributed to both private and public entities for their use in further restorative efforts of coastal prairie across the country.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

See the U.S. Geological Survey coastal prairie research program site and publications for information on coastal prairie species, biodiversity and endangerment:

Visit the publications and past lab member sections for more information on biodiversity and other assessments at the Coastal Center: http://nsmn1.uh.edu/steve/

Archive Information:

Studies on climate change related at the Coastal Center: http://www.uh.edu/research/news/magazine/2016/climate-change/

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.