Located entirely within the state of Texas, this relatively small ecoregion is big on diversity. Forests of oak and hickory support opposums, least shrews, beavers, and many butterflies and reptiles.
Fire and drought were historically the factors that maintained the prevailing species mix in this hot, humid ecoregion. Irrigated rice fields now dot the landscape.
The East Central Texas Forests are filled with an interesting mix of scarlet, post, and blackjack oaks along with pignut and mockernut hickories. These trees provide refuge for fox and gray squirrels. Along the scenic rivers, forests of elm, pecan, and walnut are home to beavers, raccoons, and striped skunks. The endangered Houston toad forms a chorus in breeding ponds, announcing spring. And each spring, male Attwater's prairie chickens gather in leks to perform an elaborate courtship ritual, inflating their yellow air sacs and emitting a strange, booming sound across a sea of grasses.
Cause for Concern
Both ranching and farming practices have heavily altered the natural habitat in this ecoregion. Approximately three-fourths of the natural vegetation has been converted to agriculture, and further conversion is a continuing threat. There are no large portions of intact habitat remaining today and no national forests in the region, and the level of protection for existing habitat is minimal. In the few remaining patches of natural habitat, fire suppression threatens to change the natural composition of species by eliminating certain species.
For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001