Trained as a biologist with a special interest in the taxonomy and natural history of mammals, David Schmidly has taught at Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, and served as President of the Texas Tech and Oklahoma State University. Dr. Schmidly recently published Texas Natural History: A Century of Change, an annotated reprinting and updating of A Biological Survey of Texas, the landmark 1905 study of the state by Vernon Bailey and a team of 12 other federal biologists. Dr. Schmidly notes that the pressures on wildlife at the turn of the 20th century were basically limited to overhunting; impacts now include habitat fragmentation, introduction of non-native animals (such as feral hogs) and plants (such as Chinese Tallow), ignorance of wildlife among a burgeoning urban human population, and reductions in free-flowing surface water. Dr. Schmidly has not only looked at this historical change, but has also considered the future ecological challenges that face the state. He coordinated a 2002 report entitled Texas Parks and Wildlife for the 21st Century, which concludes that Texas state and local governments must acquire a great deal more public land, on the order of 2 million acres, in order to give the public sufficient access to outdoor recreation and to ensure the long-term viability of wildlife populations.
Interview InformationOctober 10, 2002