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Western Gulf coastal grasslands

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Title: Western Gulf coastal grasslands  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Piney Woods, Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands, List of terrestrial ecoregions (WWF), Coastal prairie, Nearctic tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Collection: Ecoregions of Mexico, Ecoregions of the United States, Flora of Louisiana, Flora of Tamaulipas, Flora of Texas, Geography of Louisiana, Geography of Texas, Grasslands of Mexico, Grasslands of Texas, Grasslands of the United States, Nearctic Ecoregions, Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands, Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands of the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Western Gulf coastal grasslands

Western Gulf coastal grasslands
An Attwater's prairie chicken
Ecozone Nearctic
Biome Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Bird species 335[1]
Mammal species 75[1]
Area 77,425 km2 (29,894 sq mi)
Countries United States and Mexico
States Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Tamaulipas
Habitat loss 48.734%[1]
Protected 10.31%[1]

The Western Gulf coastal grasslands are a subtropical grassland ecoregion of the southern United States and northeastern Mexico. It is known in Texas as "Coastal Prairie" and as the Tamaulipan pastizal in Mexico.


  • Setting 1
  • Flora 2
  • Fauna 3
  • Threats and preservation 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


The ecoregion covers an area of 77,425 km2 (29,894 sq mi), extending along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico from southeastern Louisiana (west of the Mississippi Delta) through Texas and into the Mexican state of Tamaulipas as far as the Laguna Madre. Specific areas include a number of barrier islands, and the resacas or natural levees of the Laguna Madre.[2] The coast is vulneable to tropical storms that can seriously damage habitats.[3]


The natural habitat of the area is a mix of Andropogon gerardi), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) the primary tallgrass species that are typical of the coastal prairie, with several other shorter grasses and many herbaceous and woody species. The southern third of the Texas stretch and all of the Tamaulipan portion contains shrubby areas of honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), huisache (Vachellia farnesiana var. farnesiana), lime prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum fagara), and Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana).[2]


This coast is rich in wildlife, and 700 species of birds, animals and reptiles have been counted here, although many are now threatened or endangered. This coast is a critical habitat for the Attwater's prairie chickens (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri), over one million of which inhabited the prairie in Texas and Louisiana in the 19th century, but extreme reduction of their habitat put them on the U.S. endangered species list in 1967. Another endangered bird of the coast is the whooping crane (Grus americana) while other birds include least grebe, white-collared seedeater (Sporophila morelleti), red-billed pigeon (Columba flavirostris), brown jay (Cyanocorax morio), Neotropic cormorant, white-winged dove (Leptotila verrequxi) and Audubon's oriole (Icterus graduacauda).

Mammals of the area include ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Gulf Coast jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi cacomitli), southern yellow bat (Lasiurus ega), Mexican spiny pocket mouse (Liomys irroratus), bobcats, collared peccary and eastern cottontails. Rancho Nuevo beach in Tamaulipas and along the Texas coast are the only two nesting sites in the world for the Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) while other herpetofauna of the ecoregion include Río Grande chirping frog (Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides) and Mexican white-lipped frog (Leptodactylus fragilis).

Threats and preservation

Less than 1% of the ecoregion remains in pristine condition, almost entirely in Texas, while most of the coast has been converted to farmland, including rice paddies, grazing land, or urban areas including Houston, Texas. Estuaries and other coastal wetlands are better preserved than the prairie and indeed the protected areas of the coast are mainly sanctuaries for waterbirds.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Hoekstra, J. M.; Molnar, J. L.; Jennings, M.; Revenga, C.; Spalding, M. D.; Boucher, T. M.; Robertson, J. C.; Heibel, T. J.; Ellison, K. (2010). Molnar, J. L., ed. The Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference.  
  2. ^ a b "Western Gulf coastal grasslands". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  3. ^ "Western Gulf coastal grasslands (NA0701)". WildWorld Ecoregion Profiles. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
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