Over the summer, visitors to the Wild Basin Creative Research Center might have encountered a St. Edward’s student collecting ants from a trap in the ground. Rogue hikers who left the trail were caught on film by another student’s “trail cam.” The students were conducting research at the center, part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve system that the university has managed since 2009. Biology, Bioinformatics and Forensic Science majors documented the species there, and Computer Science students created a database of those plants, animals and microbes and how they relate to one another.

The students’ research is particularly significant, says Wild Basin director John Abbott, because there aren’t many places like the preserve. A large parcel of undeveloped land that can be studied over many years is relatively rare, and it offers a chance for St. Edward’s to create a valuable long-term data set. Having 20 years of data lets researchers see how species at Wild Basin might be adapting and responding to external influences like nearby construction projects and even climate change.  

— Robyn Ross