The Effects of European Man on the Ecology of the Hill Country

Edgar's picture

A few weeks ago I discussed what the Hill Country Looked like before European man arrived in the early 1800s. Today I want to discuss what changes Europeans caused in the ecology of the Hill Country.

Prior to 1800, Texas was populated mainly by Native Americans with only a very few early settlers, mainly Spanish in South Texas. The Native Americans certainly had some effects on the Hill Country ecology. They started, intentionally or accidentally, grass fires, hunted many wild animals and cultivated a few small farms here and there. But their effects on the landscape were relatively minor, because of their relatively small numbers and their rather subsistence lifestyle.

Most of the settlers arriving in Texas in the mid-1800s were either immigrants coming directly from Europe, mainly Germany, or people of European ancestry from the Southern US. They brought with them their knowledge and habits of agriculture based on land that had much deeper soil and higher rainfall than the Hill Country. And they brought with them their exotic animals, ones we now call cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens.


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