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Field Stations

The Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) is an 82-acre biological research site that is part of an almost 400-acre tract of land originally donated to the university in 1910 by George W. Brackenridge, a former University of Texas regent. Located in the heart of Austin, the Brackenridge Field Laboratory property is comprised of areas of rich natural vegetation which include a native bluestem prairie, old pasture land, former quarry, Firefly Meadow, Pecan Bottoms, Colorado River and juniper woodlands. This diversity has produced records of thousands of species including at least 163 species of birds, 20 mammals, 373 species of plants, 68 species of ants, and 1200 species of moths and butterflies, and 200 species of native bees. In the 1980's a mountain lion was even spotted at BFL. Additionally, several species new to science have been discovered here and were named from specimens first collected on the site.

The Stengl “Lost Pines” Biological Station (SLP) at the University of Texas at Austin is hundreds of acres of research and teaching space, akin to having a piece of the “Piney Woods” of east Texas less than 50 miles from Austin. Characterized as Post Oak Savannah, the community is remarkably similar to the Black Oak Savannas of more northern States and southern Canada. Elements of both the Blackland Prairie (the property is only a few miles from the Fayette Plains) and the East Texas Piney Woods, however, increase the potential biodiversity of the site.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (WFC) field station in south Austin offers scientists and students opportunities for research and learning about a mixed oak-juniper savanna along the Balcones Escarpment with intermittent drainages and a network of cave and karst features. As the newest addition to the field station network, it supports better understanding of native and managed landscapes—using environmental monitoring, original research and discovery-based student learning activities—to inform decision-making about the best ways to support people, plants, wildlife and the natural systems that they rely on.

The White Family Outdoor Learning Center in Dripping Springs, Texas serves as a 266-acre living "classroom" in the Texas Hill Country. It provides channels, floodplains and hill slopes that cover a range of steepness and soil occurrences. The topographic, lithologic and hydrologic variability provides an ability to design and implement long-term hydrological and ecological monitoring and data collection for use in research and teaching.

The Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas is a prime location for research on the Texas Coast adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico and local bay systems. The Marine Science Institute also manages the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, a federal-state partnership that connects research, education and stewardship to communities.

The McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis is the most recent addition to the Texas Field Station Network and available for the study of the land and the celestial universe. Located on 650 acres in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, this mostly undisturbed land in the Chihuahuan Desert is a valuable natural resource, accessible for research and learning.

With a donation from Winn Family Foundation, the University is preparing to construct and operate a Hill Country Field Station. When the field station is completed this decade, it will be surrounded by hundreds of acres of conservation easement, feature tracts for research and support new initiatives in public outreach.