Oklahoma's Biodiversity Plan:

A Shared Vision for Conserving Our Natural Heritage

 

Table of Contents

Ecoregions of Oklahoma

 

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Preface................................................................................................................................................. viii

Acknowledgments................................................................................................................................... ix

Executive Summary................................................................................................................................ xi

Biodiversity Council............................................................................................................................. xiii

Biodiversity Task Force......................................................................................................................... xv

            Biology Committee..................................................................................................................... xv

            Conservation and Recreation Committee................................................................................... xv

            Education Committee................................................................................................................. xv

            Forestry and Agriculture Committee......................................................................................... xvi

            Land Resources Committee....................................................................................................... xvi

            Minerals Committee.................................................................................................................. xvi

            Water Resources Committee.................................................................................................... xvii

   

Part I: Understanding Oklahoma’s Biodiversity........................................................................................ 1

            Chapter 1: What is Biodiversity? ................................................................................................ 3

                        Genetic Diversity............................................................................................................ 5

                        Species Diversity............................................................................................................ 5

                        Community Diversity...................................................................................................... 6

                        Unique Elements............................................................................................................ 8

                        Summary....................................................................................................................... 8

 

            Chapter 2: Why is Biodiversity Important? ................................................................................ 9

                        Values Independent of Economics................................................................................. 9

                                    Stewardship...................................................................................................... 9

                                Natural Heritage................................................................................................10

                        Values of Community Processes  .................................................................................. 11

                                    Water and Soil Conservation............................................................................. 11

                                    Waste Disposal................................................................................................. 11

                                    Community Stability........................................................................................... 11

                                    Recreation......................................................................................................... 12

                                    Education.......................................................................................................... 12

                                    Indicators of Environmental Health..................................................................... 13

                        Economic Values........................................................................................................... 13

                                    Ecotourism........................................................................................................ 13

                                    Locally Consumed Products.............................................................................. 13

                                    Commercial Products........................................................................................ 14

                                    Medical Values................................................................................................. 14

                                    Agriculture........................................................................................................ 15

                                    Biological Controls............................................................................................ 15

                                    Use of Native Plants.......................................................................................... 15

                                    Avoid Endangering Species............................................................................... 16

                        Future Value................................................................................................................. 16

            Chapter 3: Oklahoma’s Biodiversity ......................................................................................... 17

                        Community Diversity..................................................................................................... 17

                                    South Central Plains.......................................................................................... 17

                                    Ouachita Mountains.......................................................................................... 21

                                    Arkansas Valley................................................................................................ 22

                                    Ozark Highlands............................................................................................... 23

                                    Central Irregular Plains...................................................................................... 24

                                    Central Oklahoma/Texas Plains......................................................................... 25

                                    Flint Hills.......................................................................................................... 27

                                    Central Great Plains.......................................................................................... 28

                                    Southwestern Tablelands................................................................................... 31

                                    Western High Plains.......................................................................................... 32

                                    Black Mesa...................................................................................................... 33

                                    Big Rivers........................................................................................................ 34

                        Species Diversity.......................................................................................................... 35

                                    Animals............................................................................................................ 35

                                    Fungi................................................................................................................ 40

                                    Plants............................................................................................................... 41

                        Genetic Diversity.......................................................................................................... 42

                        Summary...................................................................................................................... 42

 

            Chapter 4: Factors Influencing Oklahoma’s Biodiversity.......................................................... 45

                        Physical Factors..........................................................................................................45

                                Geographic Location.......................................................................................45

                                Landscape Diversity........................................................................................45

                                Climate........................................................................................................... 46

                        Ecological Processes that Maintain Biodiversity............................................................ 46

                                Dispersal......................................................................................................... 46

                                Isolation...........................................................................................................47

                                Local Adaptation..............................................................................................47

                                Speciation.........................................................................................................48

                                Natural Disturbance and Succession...................................................................48

                                Community or Species Restoration.................................................................... 49

                        Ecological Processes that Decrease Biodiversity............................................................. 49

                                Habitat Fragmentation........................................................................................50

                                Disruption of Natural Processes..........................................................................51

                                Reduction in Population Size...............................................................................52

                                Hybridization......................................................................................................53

                                Species Eliminations........................................................................................... 53

                                Species Introductions..........................................................................................54

                        Myths or Misunderstanding............................................................................................. 55

                        Rising Demands on Resources........................................................................................ 55

                        Summary....................................................................................................................... 56

 

Part II: Recommendations for Conserving Biodiversity............................................................................ 57

            Chapter 5: Biological Recommendations to Conserve Oklahoma’s Biodiversity........................... 59

                        Societal or Economic Level........................................................................................... 59

                            Clean Air, Water and Soil Practices....................................................................... 59

                            Environmental Education........................................................................................ 60

                            Local Government Conservation Efforts..................................................................61

                            State and Federal Conservation Programs.............................................................. 62

                            Conservation on Private Land.................................................................................62

                        Sensitive Natural Areas................................................................................................. 64

                        Public Lands................................................................................................................. 65

                        Biological Information Needs........................................................................................ 66

                            Assembling Existing Knowledge............................................................................66

                            Identifying Knowledge Gaps................................................................................. 67

                        Scientific Oversight....................................................................................................... 67

 

            Chapter 6:  Conservation and Recreation Activities Can Enhance Biodiversity Conservation...   69

                        Ways Conservation and Recreation Groups Benefit Biodiversity Conservation............  70

                            Protection of Natural Areas...............................................................................  70

                            Management and Stewardship Activities.............................................................. 70

                            Research............................................................................................................. 71

                            Education............................................................................................................ 72

                            Political Action.................................................................................................... 72

                            Individual Actions.................................................................................................72

                        Ways to Improve Biodiversity Conservation................................................................. 72

                             Regional Coordination......................................................................................... 72

                             Funding...............................................................................................................73

                                 Inventory and Monitoring.....................................................................................73

                            Management.........................................................................................................73

                            Incorporate Biodiversity Conservation with Recreational Activities.........................74

                            Education..............................................................................................................74

                            Change in Public Perception..................................................................................75

                        Outreach...................................................................................................................... 77

                        Summary...................................................................................................................... 78

 

            Chapter 7:  Forestry and Agricultural Management Can Enhance Biodiversity.......................... 79

                        Practices that Benefit Biodiversity................................................................................ 81

                            Land-Management Practices................................................................................81

                            Government Services...........................................................................................83

                             Education............................................................................................................84

                        Ways to Improve Biodiversity in Forestry and Agriculture............................................ 85

                            Waste Disposal................................................................................................... 85

                            Exotic Species and Pest Control............................................................................85

                             Alternative Crop Markets.................................................................................... 86

                            Conservation Practices......................................................................................... 87

                        Policy Changes Needed to Encourage Biodiversity Management................................... 89

                        Miscellaneous............................................................................................................... 90

                        Outreach....................................................................................................................... 90

 

            Chapter 8: Heavily Used Areas Can Contribute to Biodiversity................................................ 93

                        Ways Heavily Used Areas Can Contribute to Biodiversity............................................ 94

                            Planning.............................................................................................................. 94

                            Education or Recreation.......................................................................................94

                             Management Practices........................................................................................95

                        Ways Heavily Used Areas Can Enhance Biodiversity................................................... 95

                            Landscaping for Biodiversity.................................................................................95

                            Reduce Mowing...................................................................................................98

                            Minimize Chemical Usage.................................................................................... 99

                                Parks: More Than Swing sets and Ball fields........................................................... 99

                            Habitat Banking................................................................................................. .100

                            Control Exotic Species.........................................................................................100

                            Minimize Illegal Dumping......................................................................................101

                        Outreach..................................................................................................................... 101

                        Summary..................................................................................................................... 102

 

            Chapter 9:  The Minerals Industry Can Enhance Biodiversity..................................................... 103

                        The Minerals Industry Addresses Biodiversity............................................................... 105

                            Initial Planning....................................................................................................... 105

                            Reclamation Planning.............................................................................................105

                            Minimize Contact with Oil and Related Substances.................................................106

                            Support of Conservation Programs....................................................................... 106

                        Ways the Minerals Industry Can Improve Biodiversity Management............................... 107

                            Incentives...............................................................................................................107

                            Regulatory Issues....................................................................................................107

                            Physical Practices................................................................................................... 108

                             Planning................................................................................................................. 108

                            Mitigation Banking...................................................................................................109

                            Information and Education........................................................................................109

                            Miscellaneous.......................................................................................................... 110

                        Outreach......................................................................................................................... 110

                        Summary......................................................................................................................... 111

 

            Chapter 10: Water Managers Can Enhance Biodiversity......................................................... 113

                        Water Managers Benefit Biodiversity.......................................................................... 114

                                    Water Quality.................................................................................................. 115

                                    Water Quantity................................................................................................ 116

                                    Management of Wetlands and Fisheries.......................................................... 116

                        Ways Water Managers Can Enhance Biodiversity....................................................... 117

                                    Water Quality.................................................................................................. 117

                                    Water Quantity................................................................................................ 118

                                    Habitat............................................................................................................ 119

                                    Exotic Species................................................................................................. 119

                                    Education........................................................................................................ 120

 

            Chapter 11: Distributing Biodiversity Information to the Public.............................................. 121

                        Educational Actions................................................................................................. 121

                                    Define and Describe Oklahoma’s Biodiversity.............................................. 121

                                    Dispel Myths About Biodiversity.................................................................. 122

                                    Emphasize Proactive Benefits....................................................................... 122

                                    Explain How Biodiversity Benefits Individuals............................................... 122

                                    Explain the Biodiversity Project and Plan....................................................... 122

                                    Develop Tools Targeting Specific Audiences................................................. 122

                        Prioritized Audiences................................................................................................. 123

                                    1.  Residential................................................................................................ 123

                                    2.  Agriculture................................................................................................ 123

                                    3.  Business and Industry................................................................................ 123

                                    4.  Educators.................................................................................................. 124

                                    5.  Social Organizations................................................................................... 124

                                    6.  Public Land Managers................................................................................ 124

                                    7.  Mass Media................................................................................................ 124

                                    8.  Elected Officials.......................................................................................... 124

                        Products and Outlets for Biodiversity Information.......................................................... 125

                                    In-house Communication.................................................................................. 125

                                    Workshops or Conferences................................................................,............. 125

                                    Audio Visuals................................................................................................... 125

                                    Media Information............................................................................................ 125

                                    Printed Materials.............................................................................................. 125

                                    Educational Centers......................................................................................... 126

                                    Miscellaneous.................................................................................................. 126

 

            Quick Glance at Management Recommendations................................................................... 127

                        Biological Recommendations...................................................................................... 127

                        Recommendations for Conservation and Recreational Organizations............................ 127

                        Recommendations for Forestry and Agricultural Management..................................... 127

                        Recommendations for Heavily Used Areas................................................................. 128

                        Recommendations for the Minerals Industry............................................................... 128

                        Recommendations for Water Managers..................................................................... 129

                        Recommendations for Educational Efforts................................................................... 129