East Central Texas forests
|East Central Texas forests|
East Central Texas forests (33)
|Biome||Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests|
|Area||52,600 km2 (20,300 sq mi)|
The East Central Texas forests (33) is a small temperate broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion almost entirely within the state of Texas, United States. The northern forests perimeter is partially within the southeast Oklahoma border.
East Central Texas forests are distinguished from the adjacent Texas blackland prairies and Western Gulf coastal grasslands by their greater tree density. On the other hand, they are more open and have a greater concentration of hardwoods than the forests of the Piney Woods. The climate is hot and humid.
This ecoregion is divided into oak-hickory forests, oaks mixed with little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) like in the Cross Timbers, and juniper-oak savannas. American elms (Ulmus americana) and pecans (Carya illinoensis) are found in riparian zones. The dominant trees of the oak/hickory woodland are scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), post oak (Quercus stellata) and blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) along with mockernut (Carya tomentosa) and pignut hickory (Carya glabra). The tree composition is maintained by regular wildfires and droughts.
The forests are home to a rich wildlife including Virginia Opossums (Didelphis virginiana), North American Least Shrews (Cryptotis parva), North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) and many species of butterflies and reptiles. Larger mammals that once lived here, including jaguar (Panthera onca) and Plains Bison (Bison bison bison), have now disappeared from the region. Endangered fauna found in this ecoregion include the Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis) and Attwater's Prairie Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri).
This environment has been heavily altered by cattle ranching and clearance for farmland with only a quarter of the original habitats remaining, in fragmented patches and not in large blocks. There are no national forests in the region.