Increasing diversity is a good thing--it's one of our management goals--but there are some caution lights along the way. Adding non-native species, for instance, is not the right way to get diversity. And--in order not to compare apples and oranges--you have to be sure you're counting in the same taxa you started with to make valid comparisons (birds numbers to bird numbers, trees to trees, etc.) You can add taxa after the start of a project, but then the total species comparison won't be valid because those species might have been on the place before, just not counted.
That being said, here's where we are, in total terms first: Total plant species identified--306. Total animal species identified--416. Total species is thus 722, but we can't compare that directly to the baseline of 175, since many taxa weren't counted during the baseline period. Within the same animal taxa counted for baseline (birds, mammals, snakes), birds have gone from 65 to 149, mammals from 13 to 20, snakes from 6 to 16. Within the same plant types (not taxa) counted for baseline, grass has gone from 21 to 49 species, woody plants from 33 to 54 , forbs from 62 to 134. Woody plants will probably drop on the next count, because we're close to eradicating some invasive non-native species (chinaberry, for instance) and making progress on others (ligustrum, primarily.)
We have introduced some woody plants that "should" be here (chinkapin oak, bur oak, green ash in the riparian woods; agarita, evergreen sumac, etc. on the rocky knoll) because the woods were lacking species found in remaining pockets of "natural" riparian and hilltop woods. The grasses and forbs returned on their own, with the change in management, though we've added a few specifics like mealy blue sage, Texas columbine, Turks' cap. No animal species have been introduced. Of the animal species, some are here only part-time, and some are not here every year--the place is too small for that.
So we have made progress...more species of things are living here, and there's more life overall (the bare patches of ground now mostly covered with *something*...grass, better quality forbs, etc.
This jewel-like little fellow is a Dogbane Beetle...and it seems to stick pretty close to the dogbane plants, as I've never seen it on anything else. (Now watch it make a liar out of me today!) It's one of the small beauties of our early summer.