2024 Spring Symposium Program Information

"Native Host Plants for Texas Butterflies and Moths," presented by Jim & Lynne Weber

Want to attract beautiful and beneficial pollinators like butterflies and moths to your garden?  Learn about the special relationships that exist between several native plant species and the butterflies and moths that use them, beyond monarchs and milkweeds!  Explore why native plants are essential to healthy ecosystems, the role of nectar and host plants, and how these insects find the desired host plant species upon which to lay their eggs.  This talk will leave you with the knowledge and resources needed to encourage and appreciate a wider diversity of caterpillars, butterflies, and moths in a Texas native plant garden.

"Connecting Habitats in the Urban Environment and the Importance of Native Plants," presented by Mei Ling Liu

Four major cities in Texas continue to develop substantially, with open fields rapidly transforming into housing, shopping complexes, car washes, etc. The relentless pace of ongoing development seems nearly unstoppable. The Native Plant Propagation Center, formed in 2022 through a partnership between the Dallas Zoo and TCA, aims to save pollinators by advocating for the use of native plants across North Texas. The presentation will share more details about the partnership, outlining how it has developed its current program and its impact on North Texas. Additionally, it will explore ways to mitigate the impact of habitat fragmentation and loss in our urban and suburban landscapes.


"Lewisville's Roots For Wings Program: How One Texas Town Is Rethinking the American Lawn" presented by TJ Gilmore, Mayor of Lewisville, Texas

The March 2023 issue of Texas Monthly magazine featured a story about the City of Lewisville’s Roots For Wings program which certifies residential pollinator and native habitat gardens.  This program provides residents with training and education on site selection and preparation, plant selection and maintenance, and ecological benefits. The workshop is taught with the Native Plant Society of Texas, Denton County Master Gardeners, and Elm Fork Master Naturalists. In this presentation, you will hear from Lewisville Mayor TJ Gilmore who was a major proponent of this initiative.  He will explain how Roots For Wings expands the city’s commitment to sustainability, is an integral component of its strategic plan, explain program guidelines and partnerships, and how it is being implemented.  We hope attendees will take away ideas of implementing similar programs and strategies in their communities.

"Maintaining Soil Microbial Diversity in Texas Grasslands," presented by Xinyi Yan

Biodiversity loss and climate change are two key threats to native ecosystems. The loss of native plant diversity and of soil microbial diversity may reinforce each other due to their pervasive links and have cascading effects on ecosystem functioning. Further, drought or change in precipitation, which is increasingly affecting central Texas, may further complicate the impact of plant diversity on the soil microbial communities. To evaluate how native plant richness and phylogenetic diversity (PD) shape soil fungal communities under different water availabilities, we conducted a multi-year biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiment at UT’s Brackenridge Field Laboratory.

"Quercus buckleyi Seedlings: Does Mycorrhizal Inoculation Affect Drought Response?" presented by Silas Jenkins

Most plants form mutualistic symbioses with particular taxa of fungi through their root systems.These relationships are known to benefit plants in several ways, including amelioration of drought stress, however soil fungal communities are spatiotemporally variable; a seedling may have more or less access to compatible fungal symbionts depending on microsite conditions. We conducted a factorial greenhouse experiment in which Quercus buckleyi seedlings were introduced to inocula sourced from four site types and subsequently droughted in attempts to answer the questions: Does inocula provenance influence the mycorrhizal partnerships formed in early life stages? Do these relationships impact resilience to water scarcity? As hot drought conditions become more frequent and severe in Central Texas, understanding potential dependence on soil mutualists could inform our restoration techniques.

"Unique Ecological Systems and Associated Rare Flora of Texas," presented by Jason Singhurst

Details coming soon!