Internship Activities Update
June 26, 2019

“I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”

Theodore Roosevelt

I am currently in the middle of my first field season studying playa amphibian communities in the Southern High Plains. This year has been exceptional for the study of amphibians. Over the last month, we have received above-average rainfall that has breathed life into our playa wetlands. It has allowed me to expand my research to playas that were not expected to be inundated during the season. A lot of planning and little luck is sometimes necessary for a good field season.

Thunderstorm, Floyd County, TX.

Of course, the rain has formed its own challenges for aspects of the project and accessibility, but I’ve always loved a challenge. I’m now going through the process of adapting the project to accommodate for the large amount of rain we have received. Not a bad problem to have in a semi-arid region.

Flooded country road running through the middle of a playa basin, Floyd County, TX.

I’ve been performing call surveys, visual surveys, and pipe sampling during this period. Almost all amphibian species present in the region have been detected (through one method or another). This is very exciting for me because there may be years where some species will skip breeding activities all together if rainfall isn’t adequate.

I have also been able to spend time doing community education this summer. In addition to research, I have been able to travel to Abernathy, TX and Nazareth, TX to talk to students, enthusiasts, landowners, and other interested parties about amphibian communities in our playa wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide. Education regarding wildlife and natural world, one of the 12 commonwealth assets in rural communities, is paramount for any conservation and restoration planning to be successful.

2019 Playa Field Day, Abernathy, TX. Photo Credit: Jim Steiert, 2019.

To love the land, we must know the land and how it provides for us. These ecosystems benefit humans in ways that we may not think about on a daily basis. However, learning about the natural world can only be so effective on paper. The real appreciation comes through taking the time to get outside and take in all that it has to offer through a more personal, sensory experience.

Casa la Entereza, Nazareth, TX.

Amanda Emert