Archbold Biological Station, Biennial Report 1997-1998

Kevin N. Main, Land Manager


Land Manager: Kevin N. Main

[Biennial Contents | Biennial 95-96]

Archbold Biological Station is responsible for the management of 18,440 acres of land in central Florida. The Station’s 5,140-acre scrub preserve is managed to sustain ecosystem integrity while providing abundant research opportunities. Also under management by the Station is the Lake Placid Scrub Preserve, a State-owned 3,000-acre tract immediately NW of the Station, and the 10,300-acre Buck Island Ranch, site of the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center.

     The Station has some of the best examples of natural habitats remaining on the Lake Wales Ridge. Yet, as with other natural areas along the Ridge, the Station is increasingly an island of native habitat surrounded by citrus groves, cattle ranches, and housing developments (see map, page 32), and this insularity brings at least three liabilities for land management; isolation from large-scale disturbances, smoke management during prescribed burns, and accelerated invasion by non-native species.

     Large-scale Disturbances. As a habitat "island," we are isolated from large-scale disturbances (such as landscape fires) that once shaped Florida’s landscape. Research has shown that most Florida ecosystems require periodic disturbances by fire. Since landscape-scale disturbances are now largely a thing of the past, we use prescribed burning to provide conditions favorable for native plants and animals (see Fire Management Plan).

     Smoke Management. Smoke is one of the most visible results of a fire, and land managers in Florida, as elsewhere, must deal with the possible effects of smoke on nearby residential areas and roads. Goal 7, "Reduce Fire Hazards," of the Station’s Fire Management Plan specifically addresses smoke management. Archbold is fortunate that few residential areas are adjacent to our boundaries, but two major state highways and a county road are potentially affected by smoke from Station burns. Therefore, predicting the effects of wind on smoke dispersion and movement is a major component of our burn plans.

     Exotic Organisms Invade. As an island of pristine habitat, Archbold is prone to invasion by non-native species of plants and animals, and especially along our extensive boundaries. Control of these species is necessary to protect native habitat, and in some cases, to restore areas that have become highly infested. During 1997–98 we used staff and volunteers to control invasions of air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), rosary pea (Abrus precatorius), and feral hogs, using hand pulling and herbicides for the plants and live-traps for the hogs. We consult with organizations such as the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FEPPC) to keep current on new exotic species threats and new techniques for controlling species populations.

     We are also involved in management beyond our boundaries. We participate in the Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Working Group, the Central Florida Prescribed Fire Council, and the FEPPC, helping guide wise management decisions at the landscape level. In turn, we benefit from valuable ideas from other land management agencies that help us to be more efficient. In the future, coordination of land management efforts along the Ridge will allow for more interorganization / interagency activities such as prescribed burning and exotic species control.

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Archbold Biological Station, 12 April 2000
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blkball.gif (842 bytes) Archbold Biological Station, P.O. Box 2057, Lake Placid, Florida 33862 USA
Phone: 863-465-2571, FAX: 863-699-1927, email