Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.21
Liaison Gary Cocke
Submission Date Sept. 11, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

The University of Texas at Dallas
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Gary Cocke
Sustainability Director
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 Texas at Dallas manages an 8 acre Black Land Prairie Restoration area located at the Southeast portion of campus. The restoration area is home to over 200 species of plants, birds, insects and animals important to the preservation of the native grassland ecosystem that use to dominate North Texas. Among the species promoted at the site are important pollinators such as the Monarch Butterfly and the Western Honey Bee that play a vital role in restoration efforts for populations of native plants in that area.
The restoration area is of conservation importance because it provides habitat for native plants, and animals that would otherwise be facing habitat loss from rapid development in the Dallas Metroplex. The site is maintained by a coalition of student and community volunteers, local experts, and campus departments such as the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Student Volunteerism who all work together to protect pollinators and provide a space on campus for students to learn about and participant actively in the conservation process.
As part of promoting biodiversity and aiding the restoration of native plants, 2 apiaries are managed on campus. In fall of 2018, UT Dallas received certification as a Bee Campus USA for efforts related to our work with pollinators and native plants. This past year we welcomed the addition on a new apiary site on the northeast corner of campus where there is a native pollinator wildflower field. In addition to the apiaries, the Black Land Prairie Restoration area also houses the Monarch Waystation, an area of native pollinators including Milkweed, which is certified through the organization Monarch Watch, a non-profit managed through the University of Kansas. These certifications allow our campus to expand our efforts in promoting biodiversity by increasing the network for resources and outreach that can be directed towards sustainability efforts on campus.

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:

In April, the university hosted a Bioblitz event to monitor species richness in the Black Land Prairie restoration area and determine if the area contained any endangered or vulnerable species. A Bioblitz is an event in which a group of volunteers document as many species of plants, animals and insects as possible in a set amount of time by taking photos and using a database, such as iNaturalist to identify species. Developed by Cornell University, iNaturalist is a citizen science app used globally by over 500,000 observers who have logged over 19.5 million observations. This event was a collaboration between the Office of Sustainability, the Office of Student Volunteerism and the Texas Master Naturalists program. Prior to the event, staff from the Office of Sustainability received training on iNaturalist from an Urban Wildlife Biologist from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. At the event, volunteers from the local Texas Master Naturalist chapter provided hand on training to a group of 24 volunteers on how to use iNaturalist as a surveying tool. At the event on April 26th, 348 observations of 113 species were logged in 2 hours. While no vulnerable or endangered species were identified at that time, ongoing observation will allow for the detection of any changes in the ecological balance of the area. All of these observations counted towards the larger City Nature Challenge 2019 which is a 3 day international competition among cities to see which city can document the most biodiversity in that time period using the tool iNaturalist. All of our observations at the UT Dallas Bioblitz counted towards the larger total for the city of Dallas. In a broader sense, biodiversity data collected through this event will continue to serve as a base line measure to quantify changes in species richness as our campus undergoes further development and construction.

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

UT Dallas has dedicated acreage toward preserving the habitat for the Monarch Butterfly. The no-mow zone space is identified as the Monarch Waystation. This location is also certified through the nonprofit organization known as the Monarch Watch.

UT Dallas has an apiary so students can study the biology of honeybees. The bees have access to native plants in a secluded area of campus left fallow. This is an academic program contributing to biodiversity on-campus.

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

The Black Land Prairie preservation area is currently maintained through a collaboration between Facilities Management, the Office of Student Volunteerism and the Office for Sustainability. The Monarch Waystation is designated as a No-Mow zone and the head groundkeeper oversees a land care plan to ensure that the area remains undisturbed. In addition to the No-Mow Zone, the Monarch Waystation is replanted each spring by a group of volunteers during Earth Week in order to provide migrating Monarch Butterflies with a stable source of food and a habitat for laying their eggs. This year, 700 Milkweed samplings were transplanted at the waystation and these plants will continue to improve the health and productivity of the Monarch Waystation. The health of the Monarch Waystation and the Black Land Prairie Restoration at large is monitored throughout the year by the Grounds Department in Facilities Management and by observations made by citizen scientists through the tool iNaturalist.

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

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