Greater Everglades Ecosystem Excursion

FIU students surveying on Red Hill during their 'Geology Field Excursion' class.

In mid-March, a Florida International University class set a northwest compass bearing for Archbold traveling from their home base in Miami and the coastal Everglades up to the ridges, rivers, and ranches of the headwaters of the Everglades. Dr. Mike Ross and Dr. René Price along with Rodolfo Rego and Susana Stoffella immersed their 'Applied Ecology Field Excursion' and 'Geology Field Excursion' students into the local ecology and hydrogeology to 'get in touch with the environment for an extended period' while gaining practical field work experience studying the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. Ross shared, 'After a great introduction to Archbold from Hilary Swain (Executive Director), we did some vegetation/soil sampling and groundwater well monitoring on Archbold’s Red Hill before learning about the importance of fire and fire management from Eric Menges (Archbold Plant Ecology Director).' Later, Mark Deyrup (Archbold Emeritus Entomologist) led the curious students through the sugar sands in the Florida scrub before they went 'downhill’ for a tour of Archbold's Buck Island Ranch research with Dr. Amartya Saha (Archbold Ecohydrologist) and Dr. Gregory Sonnier (Archbold Post-doc Plant Ecologist). The wonder-filled week culminated with independent student research projects looking at everything from sundews (insectivorous plants) and insect-plant relationships to oak and palm distributions at the Ranch. On their final day, the group got a proper send off from the Florida Scrub-Jays thanks to a field trip lead by Angela Tringali (Archbold Avian Ecology Post-doc Research Fellow).