How do biologists and land managers determine which properties are highest priority to recommend for conservation? One method could be to focus on protecting the habitats of plants endemic to a particular region in order to save that area’s essential, unique character.
Classifying an organism as endemic means its naturally occurring distribution is confined to a specific range and is found nowhere else on Earth. Endemic species often arise in microhabitats contained within a larger ecoregion—scattered soil pockets, for example, that differ substantially from the composition of the surrounding area, or seeps / springs in a dry landscape. These microhabitats can contribute extensively to species diversity and are important to include in conservation planning. Endemics can serve to flag these spots as worthy of a closer look.
The Cross Timbers and Prairies Ecoregion of northern Texas, while not a hotspot of rare and endangered species in Texas, does have several endemics that warrant protection. These hometown stars include white rosinweed (Silphium albiflorum), Engelmann sage (Salvia engelmannii), Glen Rose yucca (Yucca necopina) and Comanche Peak prairie clover (Dalea reverchonii).