BRIT® to Conduct Bio-Blitz, Neighborhood Plant Research as First Stage in Its Urban Landscape Discovery Project
Neighborhood Research Occurs September 26 and September 29 in Tarrant County
Fort Worth, TX – BRIT announced today that on September 26 and September 29, BRIT scientists and volunteers will conduct a bio-blitz of Tarrant County, documenting the diversity of its ecosystems. Forty BRIT scientists and volunteers will spread across Tarrant County to pre-selected locations to sample the various types of trees, grasses, and other plants.
The bio-blitz is the first phase of an in-depth, urban landscape study designed to gain a better understanding of local ecosystems. The project will address sustainable water usage as it relates to urban and suburban landscape design. The basic premise of the year-long, urban landscape study is this: by using native plants that originally covered the landscape, homeowners will use less water and other resources to maintain their lawns.
Working in four shifts, the researchers will create and study over 100 temporary research plots, which will range in size between 75 square feet to 300 square feet. Inside the plots, researchers will determine the number of plant species, which species are dominant, the number of native species versus non-native, and the age and types of trees. Research locations will include residential yards, city parks, and roadsides.
The results of the project will help Tarrant County residents with neighborhood-specific plant information so they can make informed decisions on how to manage their residential landscapes, while being mindful of area’s water resources.
“Before we can make recommendations on the use of various plants, we need to know what’s out there” said Dr. Will McClatchey, vice president of research for BRIT. “We will be able to provide information on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis that can help find a suitable balance between ecosystem function and homeowner’s cost of maintenance.” BRIT scientists estimate that 50 percent of the area is planted with non-native plants that require a large amount of water to survive.
High temperatures and drought conditions have placed stress on DFW-area water supplies. Costs of maintaining non-native landscapes are increasing for DFW homeowners, businesses, and area cities. To date, no research has been done that shows these groups how to reduce the effects of drought on a neighborhood by neighborhood level in Tarrant County and, in so doing, conserve water and save money.
Tarrant County is a constantly changing environment shaped by environmental, social, and economic forces. It is a mosaic of lawns, parks, pavement, buildings, and plants. But what kinds of plants thrive here, considering our dry and unpredictable climate? That’s what the botanists at BRIT want to learn and share with the county.
Homeowners who wish to participate in BRIT’s research are encouraged to go to BRIT’s web site and take the homeowner’s landscape survey at: http://www.brit.org/research/urbanlandscape. A BRIT scientist may contact you if you wish to be included in the bio-blitz.
Results of BRIT’s bio-blitz and the larger Urban Landscape Project will be presented during a public BRIT event to be held in the third quarter of 2013.