Summary of the 2011 Big Thicket and West Gulf Coastal Plain Science Conference by Mary Catherine Johnston, BTA President
On April 8-10, 2011, the fifth West Gulf Coastal Plain and Big Thicket Science Conference was hosted at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. The focus was “Changing Landscapes and Changing Climate.” The Science Conference provided a forum for scientists and resource managers to share their research in the West Gulf Coastal Plain ecosystem, which comprises a variety of communities including southeastern pine forests, bottomland hardwood forests, and prairies. Research papers were presented through 63 oral and 28 poster presentations divided into 12 mini-sessions for oral presentations. Three field trips followed the conference: Sand Caves; Tonkawa Sandhills and Birding in SFA’s Experimental Forest.
The conference was made possible through underwriters and sponsors including US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Advanced Ecology, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at SFASU, Azimuth Forestry, Big Thicket Association, Big Thicket National Preserve (NPS) and Pineywoods East Texas Partners. The event attracted 166 registrants and brought together a diverse group of individuals representing government, academia, industry, conservation organizations and conservation enthusiasts.
Selected papers will be published in a special edition of the Southeastern Naturalist. By providing an opportunity for presentation and publication of scientific investigations, dialogue, and networking opportunities, the conference and subsequent publication will enhance the study and conservation efforts of this dynamic landscape.