Scientists predict the effects of a historic one-year drought in Texas could have profound ecological impacts that will be felt for years to come. Only about six inches of rain have fallen since January, compared with a norm
of about 13 inches, making it the worst recorded drought in the state’s history. Compounded by weeks of record heat, many parts of Texas have seen reservoirs evaporate, large-scale crop failure, and animal die-offs. At least seven reservoirs are effectively dry, and more than half of the state’s 3,700 streams and 15 large rivers are below normal rates. Scientists predict that the lack of water will ultimately mean fewer plants across entire ecosystems, meaning there will be fewer insects to promote seed production. Eventually, that will affect a wide range of species — from birds to deer — that rely on seeds and plants for nutrition. “It has a compound effect on a multitude of species and organisms and habitat types because of the way that it’s chained and linked together,” said Jeff Bonner, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.