Environmental Management

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 805–818 | Cite as

Comparison of Recent Oil and Gas, Wind Energy, and Other Anthropogenic Landscape Alteration Factors in Texas Through 2014

  • Jon Paul Pierre
  • Brad D. Wolaver
  • Benjamin J. Labay
  • Travis J. LaDuc
  • Charles M. Duran
  • Wade A. Ryberg
  • Toby J. Hibbitts
  • John R. Andrews


Recent research assessed how hydrocarbon and wind energy expansion has altered the North American landscape. Less understood, however, is how this energy development compares to other anthropogenic land use changes. Texas leads U.S. hydrocarbon production and wind power generation and has a rapidly expanding population. Thus, for ~47% of Texas (~324,000 km2), we mapped the 2014 footprint of energy activities (~665,000 oil and gas wells, ~5700 wind turbines, ~237,000 km oil and gas pipelines, and ~2000 km electrical transmission lines). We compared the footprint of energy development to non-energy-related activities (agriculture, roads, urbanization) and found direct landscape alteration from all factors affects ~23% of the study area (~76,000 km2), led by agriculture (~16%; ~52,882 km2). Oil and gas activities altered <1% of the study area (2081 km2), with 838 km2 from pipelines and 1242 km2 from well pad construction—and that the median Eagle Ford well pad is 7.7 times larger than that in the Permian Basin (16,200 vs. 2100 m2). Wind energy occupied <0.01% (~24 km2), with ~14 km2 from turbine pads and ~10 km2 from power transmission lines. We found that edge effects of widely-distributed energy infrastructure caused more indirect landscape alteration than larger, more concentrated urbanization and agriculture. This study presents a novel technique to quantify and compare anthropogenic activities causing both direct and indirect landscape alteration. We illustrate this landscape-mapping framework in Texas for the Spot-tailed Earless Lizard (Holbrookia lacerata); however, the approach can be applied to a range of species in developing regions globally.


Energy sprawl Hydraulic fracturing Wind power generation Urbanization Ecological impacts 



This work was supported by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Endangered Species Research Funding (Subaward UTA15-000609 to LaDuc and Wolaver). The work was also partially funded by the Jackson School of Geosciences, the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. Thanks to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Interagency Task Force on Economic Growth, the Endangered Species Spot-tailed Earless Lizard Working Group, R. L. Gulley, M. Hope, C. McDonald, A. Zerrenner, and M. Young for helpful discussions, and three anonymous reviewers who’s comments improved this manuscript. Publication is approved by the Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

267_2018_1000_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (912 kb)
Supplementary Information


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of GeosciencesThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of Integrative Biology, College of Natural SciencesThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.The Nature ConservancySan AntonioUSA
  4. 4.Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural ResourcesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  5. 5.Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Biodiversity Research and Teaching CollectionsTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  6. 6.Siglo GroupAustinUSA

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