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Exploring the natural wonders of the Texas Hill Country

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The Texas Hill Country is a much-loved region. It's a unique place that’s host to a variety of habitats and ecosystems, supporting a wide range of biodiversity including several endangered species (e.g., Texas blind salamander, San Marcos salamander, black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, and Tobusch fishhook cactus).

However, this is also an area that is challenged by extreme weather, from drought to flash floods, but now is also facing aggressive land development.

The Texas Hill Country is a geographic region of Central and South Texas, forming the southeast part of the Edwards Plateau. Given its location, climate, terrain, and vegetation, the Hill Country can be considered the border between the American Southeast and Southwest.

In the book “Armadillos to Ziziphus, A Naturalist in the Texas Hill Country”, author David M. Hillis takes us on an insightful tour of the karst topography of the landscape in a collection of 54 essays developed from his knowledge as an evolutionary biologist and educator. The collection is stitched together with personal experience from Hillis’s decades of ownership and management of a family ranch in Mason County, appropriately named the Double Helix.

A MacArthur Fellow and distinguished professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin, Hillis brings encyclopedic scientific knowledge to the task of explaining the Hill Country’s “natural wealth.”


David Mark Hillis is the author of “Armadillos to Ziziphus, A Naturalist in the Texas Hill Country.” He is an American evolutionary biologist, and the Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor of Biology at the University of Texas at Austin.

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*This interview will be recorded on Thursday, May 18.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi