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Invasive species

Many species not native to Florida have been introduced here over the past century. Exotic plants and animals often cause damage to native ecosystems, sometimes displacing native species. Some of these exotic species are not a threat to native ecosystems, but others are highly invasive and have the ability to overtake native vegetation and cause extensive damage, altering the native habitats. Plants such as “Old World Climbing Fern” (Lygodium microphyllum) can invade a native habitat as a single spore, and if not detected, can grow and cover all the native vegetation, leaving nothing left but a moonscape of twisted exotic vines. Often there are no native predators of these plants, which is why they can grow quickly and cover large areas. The invasive species program at Archbold focuses on detecting invasive, exotic species populations before they disturb large areas. These populations are then treated, often by a combination of mechanical and chemical means. Populations are mapped onto the Station’s GIS system so that populations can be tracked over time. Populations of certain exotic plants, such as Climbing Fern and Cogon Grass must be treated more than once to assure control.

In addition to exotic plants, the Station is host to a number of exotic animals. Feral hogs can cause extensive soil disturbance, especially along roads and in seasonal wetlands. The long-term effects of this rooting are still unclear. Hogs are actively trapped and removed from the property.

 

Map of invasive species locations on the Station and Reserve. Many species are found in disturbed areas, such as roadsides, as evident on the map. © Archbold Biological Station, 2003.

 

Archbold is also host to a number of exotic herps. Populations of native herps, such as tree frogs, could be greatly reduced as a result of invasive species. In addition to the invasive herps that are already found on the Station, several other exotics are already naturalized in south Florida and it is likely just a matter of time before they appear in the Archbold area.


Invasive plants

Fertile frond of climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum). Each leaflet is capable of producing thousands of spores.
Feral hogs are capable of rooting up extensive areas, especially in seasonal wetlands.
Cogon grass. Photo by Jeff Hutchinson. © Archbold Biological Station.