What good is a rattlesnake? What purpose do animals serve? All species play a vital role in their biological communities, and the removal of just one can have a noticeable and catastrophic ripple effect. Yet social and political pressures frequently pit species conservation against economic progress and prosperity, and scientists fear that we may be in the midst of a mass extinction event. Brian R. Chapman and William I. Lutterschmidt make the case that the effort to preserve animals is the responsibility of every Texan and that biodiversity contributes enormous economic value to the citizens of Texas. Texans on the Brink brings together experts on eighty-eight endangered and threatened animal species of Texas and includes brief descriptions of the processes that state and federal agencies employ to list and protect designated species. Species accounts include a description of the species accompanied by a photograph, an easy-to-read account of the biology and ecology of the species, and a description of efforts underway to preserve the species and its required habitat. Sobering examples of species that were once part of the Texas fauna but are now extinct or extirpated are also given to further demonstrate just how vulnerable biodiversity can be. All species require healthy habitats, and every species—even a rattlesnake—provides important services for the biotic communities in which they live. It is imperative to learn as much as we can about these animals if we are to preserve biodiversity successfully in Texas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR BRIAN R. CHAPMAN retired as a senior research scientist at the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Sciences at Sam Houston State University. He is the coauthor of The Natural History of Texas. He resides in Corpus Christi, Texas. WILLIAM I. LUTTERSCHMIDT, from Huntsville, Texas, is executive director and research scientist at the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Sciences at Sam Houston State University.