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Plant Ecology


Archbold Biological Station’s Plant Ecology Program conducts basic and applied research that focuses on four areas:

  • Plant population biology, plant demography, and population viability

  • Conservation biology and management of plants and plant communities

  • Fire ecology and management

  • Restoration ecology and reintroductions

Our main focus is on plants of Florida scrub and related ecosystems. We largely work on the Lake Wales Ridge in south-central Florida. Our research includes long-term data collection, field and laboratory experiments, and population modeling. We also work with local and national agencies to translate our research results to effective conservation and management.

Our lab has an active undergraduate intern program. Interns are usually recently graduated undergraduates who desire research experience before entering graduate school. An internship offers an opportunity to conduct an independent research project (including picking and designing a project, collecting and analyzing data, and summarizing the results orally and in written form). Interns also assist in lab projects and gain experience in myriad ecological, statistical, and modeling techniques. We also advise graduate students conducting research at Archbold or elsewhere while obtaining degrees from universities across the country and globe. Our interns and graduate students have continued on to be successful and productive ecological researchers and conservation biologists.

Plantlab staff 2013
The Plant Ecology Program re-enacts a rescue of a kitten from the scrub in this photo taken after intern Jennifer Jones’ intern seminar in July 2013. From left to right are Stacy Smith (research assistant), Morgan Franke (research intern), Maria Paula Mugnani (research intern), Eric Menges (program director), and Stephanie Koontz (research assistant). Crouching, and playing the role of the scrub kitten, is Jennifer Jones (research intern).
Plantlab group 2010
Plant Ecology Program in front of the new Lodge and Learning Center, October 2011. Top row, L-R, Sarah Haller (research assistant), Eric Menges (program director), Cari Ficken (research intern), Carl Weekley (research assistant), Justin Dee (research intern). Bottom row, L-R, Steven McAllister (research assistant), Stacy Smith (research assistant), Anna Peschel (research intern), Cailin Kellman (research intern).


Plant Group 2010
Plant Ecology Lab, November 2010, at Royce Ranch. From left to right: Sarah Jo Haller (RA), Brian Poirier (RA), Carl Weekley (RA), Jerry Schneider (intern), Stacy Smith (RA), Ryann Cressey (intern), Jimmy Lange (intern), Eric Menges (lab head), and Maxine Paul (intern).

>> Overview



Data (all Archbold data)

Photo Album (all Archbold photo album)


Lab Publications

The endangered perennial herb Liatris ohlingerae is one of 15 species we study in long-term demographic research.


Ziziphus celata is a critically endangered shrub that we are introducing to suitable sites throughout its range


Christine Hawkes
The Plant Ecology Lab collaborates
with outside researchers on a variety of projects. Christine Hawkes of the University of Texas at Austin is conducting a project on how soil legacies from past management and invasive species affect the success of restoration treatments.
Florida scrub dominated by Ceratiola ericoides supports many endemic plants and provides numerous research sites for the Plant Ecology Lab


PlantLab Fire Crew
Researchers and interns from the Plant Ecology Lab participate in planning, conducting, and studying prescribed fire