The Natural Resources Institute restores habitat, tracks, studies Texas’ threatened snakes
The Texas A&M University Natural Resources Institute, NRI, a unit of Texas A&M AgriLife, has been researching three threatened snakes unique to Texas: the Louisiana pinesnake, the eastern indigo and the massasauga rattlesnake.
“Snakes are vilified, but they are an important part of the ecosystem,” explained Danielle Walkup, NRI research scientist.
“Snakes tend to be in the middle of a food web,” she continued. “They eat smaller things like rodents, so they can help with rodent control and can also be food for bigger things, so they are an important part of the food web. They are unique creatures.”
Most of NRI’s work with the trio of threatened snakes deals with habitat restoration and assessment, partnering on early-stage reintroduction efforts, and pursuing general knowledge about the species.
“For a lot of these species of conservation concern, there’s not a lot of information known about them,” Walkup said. “Our job is to go in and figure out things like how widespread they are, their habitat, genetics, how to catch them, and so on.”