Areas of Study
The key points highlighted within each area of study will provide you with a good idea about what you need to know to compete at the Texas Envirothon. Advisors may use them as a guide to design effective curricula, educational resources, and testing scenarios. Details and study materials can be found in the Texas Envirothon Study Guide.
- Characteristics (biotic and abiotic) and location of coastal prairie in the Western Gulf region and how it is currently managed.
- Demonstrate knowledge of how abiotic and biotic factors affect prairie conditions/health and strategies and tools that promote sustainable coastal prairies.
- Describe the various entities responsible for managing coastal prairies—private, state and federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
- Ways to protect water quality within coastal prairie management.
- Demonstrate knowledge of grazing systems and how grazing is used as an effective management tool to reduce the spread and impact of noxious weeds, reduce catastrophic wildfires, and improve wildlife habitat.
- Demonstrate knowledge of coastal prairie plants, including identification, growth form, life span, season of growth, origin, and forage value.
- How different ecosystems (wetland, riparian, and upland areas) within the grasslands interact.
- How the use of the land by humans, domestic livestock, and wildlife affects the plant community.
- Demonstrate an understanding of multiple use on prairie (social, economic and ecological values).
- The rights of private landowners and citizens’ related to public land.
- Identify the processes and phases for each part of the water cycle
- Describe the chemical and physical properties of water and explain their importance for freshwater and saltwater ecosystems
- Discuss methods of conserving water and reducing point and non-point source pollution
- Analyze the interaction of competing uses of water supply, hydropower, navigation, wildlife, recreation, waste assimilation, irrigation, industry, and others
- Identify common aquatic organisms through the use of a key
- Delineate the watershed boundary for a small water body
- Be able to explain the different types of aquifers and how each type relates to water quality and quantity
- Briefly describe the benefits of wetlands, both function and value
- Describe the changes to the aquatic ecosystem based on alteration to the aquatic habitat
- Know methods used to assess and manage aquatic environments and utilize water quality information to assess the general water quality of a given body of water (includes sampling techniques, water quality parameters used to monitor point and non-point source pollution)
- Be familiar with major methods and laws used to protect water quality (surface and ground water) and utilize this information to make management decisions to improve the quality of water in a given situation
- Identify common trees without a key and identify specific or unusual species of trees or shrubs through the use of a key
- Understand forest ecology concepts and factors affecting them, including the relationship between soil and forest types, tree communities, regeneration, competition, and succession
- Understand the cause/effect relationship of factors affecting tree growth and forest development (climate, insects, microorganisms, etc.)
- Understand how wildlife habitat relates to forest communities, forest species, forest age structure, snags and den trees, availability of food, and riparian zones
- Understand the value of trees in urban and suburban settings and factors affecting their health and survival
- Understand how the following issues are affected by forest health and management: biological diversity, forest fragmentation, air quality, fire, and recreation
- Understand basic forest management concepts and tools such as: how various silvicultural practices are utilized, the use of tree measuring devices, and best management practices
- Identify complex factors which influences forest management decisions (economics, social, and ecological)
- Apply silviculture concepts and methods to develop general management recommendations for a particular situation and management goals
- Recognize soil as an important resource
- Describe basic soil properties and formation factors
- Understand soil drainage classes and know how wetlands are defined
- Determine basic soil properties and limitations, such as mottling and permeability, by observing a soil pit or soil profile
- Identify types of soil erosion and discuss methods for reducing erosion
- Utilize soil information, including soil surveys, in land use planning
- Discuss how soil is a factor in, or impacted by non-point source pollution
- Identify common wildlife species and wildlife signs (keys will be used for more extensive identification)
- Identify basic wildlife survival needs
- Describe specific adaptations of wildlife to their environment and role in the ecosystem
- Describe predator/prey relationships and examples
- Describe the potential impact of the introduction of non-native species
- Describe the major factors affecting threatened and endangered species and methods used to improve the populations of these species
- Describe ways habitat can be improved for specific species by knowing their requirements
- Discuss the concepts of carrying capacity and limiting factors
- Discuss various ways the public and wildlife managers can help in the protection, conservation, management, and enhancement of wildlife populations
- Describe food chains/webs and cite examples
- Describe factors that limit or enhance population growth
- Evaluate a given habitat for its suitability for designated species, given a description of their habitat needs