Topic 2

The Environment of Texas

and Human Interaction With It

Goals | Outcomes | Notes | Illustrations


  • to explain Texas' patterns of landforms, soils, vegetation, climate, resources, etc.
  • to know and understand human-environment interaction in the Texas context
  • to explain the processes and inter-relationships which shape Texas' environment, now and in the past

By the end of this unit you should know about...

  • generalizations about precipitation, temperature, and elevation in Texas
  • the relationship between vegetation and climate [Annual temperature and precipitation are the dominant influences on vegetation, but soil also controls plant distributions.]
  • the mosaic of landforms, soils, vegetation, precipitation, land use etc. in different regions of Texas
    • Three basic regional divisions, subdivided into 14 sub-regions
  • the climates and climatic natural hazards in Texas
  • how the environment of Texas offers opportunities as well as constraints to its occupants
  • the changing importance of natural resources in Texas
  • water resources and human impact on them in Texas
  • the different perceptions of the environment which lead to conflict over land use issues
  • environmental racism

Outline Notes


--a mosaic of landforms, soils, vegetation, animals etc.


  • ppt decreases east to west
  • temperature (growing season) increases from northwest to southeast
  • elevation increases east to west
  • there is a relationship between vegetation and climate

Three basic divisions (regions) of physical Texas, subdivided into 14 subregions. See this image to help you visualize Texas.

As we review each, think about landforms, soils, vegetation (originally and now), ppt, animals, land use, and other details.

Locate, map, and describe...

A. Rolling Prairies
  • Piney Woods: 1) long leaf pine in southeast, 2) pine oak mixed forest elsewhere
  • Post Oak Savanna
  • Fayette Prairie
  • Blackland Prairie
  • East Cross Timbers
  • Grand Prairie
  • West Cross Timbers
  • B. Coastal Prairie
  • Gulf Prairie and Marsh (N)
  • South Texas Plain


  • C. Mountain Zone
  • Edwards Plateau
  • Rolling Plains
  • High Plains
  • Trans Pecos


Climates of Texas-- and natural hazards. Factors that control Texas weather? A hazardous environment

Human Environment Interaction

The environment offers opportunities as well as constraints; humans adapt to their environment or modify it to suit their needs. Intended vs unintended consequences of human-environment interaction.

Resources and Change

  • The importance of natural resources is changing in Texas, e.g., petroleum, other resources (cement, sulfur, natural gas, lignite, helium
  • The importance of the environment is changing: regional differences
  • Need to set economic development goals that can be met without degrading the environment.
  • Conflict---different perceptions of the environment


  • State of the resource: rivers, reservoirs, aquifers
  • Population is growing, water supplies static
  • conditions in times of drought? aquifer levels? affect? decreased spring flow, subsidence
  • new reservoirs
  • water pollution
  • major areas of concern: freshwater inflows to bays/estuaries; preservation of wetlands, maintaining water quality
    • wetlands: lost to....processes?
    • water quality: affected by.....processes?

Geography of Texas Home Page
Copyright, 1997, Sarah W. Bednarz
Revised August 2005