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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
When it rains, it pours
February 24, 2024
Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Four for four
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Dr. Weston Porter (top left) and researchers from the breast cancer lab. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Weston Porter)
New A&M research initiative provides cutting-edge cancer treatments
J.M. Wise, News Reporter • April 8, 2024

It has been 20 months since Michelle Pozzi, Ph.D, of Texas A&M’s Biochemistry and Biophysics department was diagnosed with cancer. However,...

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Light Middleweight boxers Francis Cristal and Frank Chiu throw crosses during Farmers Fight Night on Thursday, April 4th, 2024, at Reed Arena.
‘One day there’s going to be a ring in the middle of Kyle Field’
Zoe May, Editor in Chief • April 11, 2024

“Throw the 1, follow with the 2!” “Keep your hands up!” “Tie him up!” It was the sixth fight of the night. The crowd was either...

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Students, residents commemorates Eid Al-Fitr
Lasan Ukwatta Liyanage, Life & Arts Writer • April 11, 2024

This year's Eid Al-Fitr celebration, hosted by Texas A&M’s Muslim Student Association, or MSA, drew over 1,500 attendees on Wednesday,...

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Student housing located right outside off campus boundaries on George Bush Drive. 
Guest Commentary: An open letter to City Hall
Ben Crockett, Guest Contributor • April 11, 2024

City Council, As representatives of the Texas Aggie Classes of 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, we write to you today to urge a reconsideration...

Biologists find cows make good company with some rare critters

GALT, Calif. – Fairy shrimp, the rare tiger salamander, the solitary bee – rare critters that live in seasonal rainwater pools in California’s grasslands – may actually benefit from having large, heavy-footed cattle grazing around their habitat.
Several biologists looking closely at what happens in these vernal pools say the diversity of the ephemeral fauna and flora in the water increases when cows keep weedy non-native grasses under control.
”The plants and the shrimp are very delicate, but it works,” said Jaymee Marty, an ecologist at the Cosumnes River Preserve, which was created to prevent further development along the only undammed river that flows from the Sierra Nevada into California’s Central Valley.
When cows munch on the invasive Mediteranean grasses that blanket the surrounding hills, vernal pool natives like the frothy white Meadowfoam and the tiny yellow Goldfields are more likely to bloom, Marty said.
She surrounded 72 pools with electrified wire and alternated periods of grazing for three years. In cow-free areas, a thick tangle of grass grew five feet tall, obscuring the ground. ”The only thing that can grow in this situation is more grass,” Marty said.
The 40,000-acre preserve just south of Sacramento is operated by the Nature Conservancy together with other environmental groups such as Ducks Unlimited, as well as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the California Department of Fish and Game. Its mission is to preserve the streamside habitat and restore wetlands while demonstrating the compatibility of human uses, including ranching, with wildlife.
Marty’s observations, which she plans to submit to peer-reviewed journals, suggest that a partnership of ranchers and environmentalists – of cows and fairy shrimp – might be just what’s needed to protect such seasonal pools.
Similar evidence has been gathered by Joe Silveira, a wildlife biologist working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Willows. When cattle there were removed to manage water routes, the diversity of fauna found in a twice-monthly count went down.
And it wasn’t just the little guys – the tadpole shrimp and the salamanders – that disappeared. The removal rippled all the way up the food chain. Silveira found fewer ducks, Sandhill cranes and Canada geese, and less waterfowl also meant fewer bald eagles.
The rare creatures found in the short-lived ponds are adapted to a unique regimen. The area floods completely in the winter, sprouting seeds, hatching salamander eggs and opening the cysts that hold the shrimp’s eggs.
Marty found that cattle prefer eating imported grass over lower-lying native vegetation, clearing space for the native plants to sprout and preserving the water. Fast-growing grasses can suck up water like straws, drying up pools too quickly for the tiger salamander, an endangered animal that needs at least 90 days in a deep pool to lay its eggs and prepare for the dry season.
Ponds in grazed areas lasted an average of 105 days, Marty found. Those in areas where cattle were removed only lasted about 45 days.

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