Antlion: Fuzzy Predator

Week86Ant Lion

The pits and squiggles of the humble antlion or “doodlebug” are a ubiquitous feature of the sandy soils found at Archbold Biological Station and throughout the southeast. Antlions build inverted cone shaped pits by crawling backwards in a spiral and throwing piles of sand outwards. Once finished digging, they sit quietly at the bottom, waiting for prey. Ants or other creatures that step on the slope lose their footing and tumble into the pit, where the antlion waits with its powerful jaws and fast reflexes. Archbold is home to 11 different species of antlions, each with slightly different preferences for location and food.

Gently tickling the edge of a pit is often enough to coax the tiny hunter from its lair, revealing its scary looking mandibles and armored head. However, anyone brave enough to have dug the entire creature out of its pit was probably disappointed. “Despite having these big scary heads,” Archbold Intern Ann Dunn states,” they’re really just these fat little grub babies under there. They can’t sting, or even walk properly.”

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Archbold: A National Natural Landmark


While many are familiar with Archbold Biological Station’s relatively recent designation to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 for its role in the history of architecture, science, and conservation, few may be familiar with Archbold’s one designation as a National Natural Landmark more than three decades ago. The National Natural Landmark program is run by the National Park Service and serves to “recognize and encourage the conservation of sites that contain outstanding biological and geological resources.” Archbold was selected for the program in 1987 for its “outstanding condition, illustrative value, rarity, diversity, and value to science and education.” It encompasses one of the largest relatively undisturbed tracts of contiguous natural communities characteristics of the Lakes Wales Ridge, and is home to a large number of endemic and rare species of plants and animals. Continue reading

The Science of Life

Archbold Biological Station offered two outstanding students Miranda Bunnell and Ashley Engle, both rising seniors at Lake Placid High School, a special opportunity for 2018 summer work at the Station. Their excitement, exuberance and newly-found appreciation for science and love of the Florida scrub comes through wonderfully in Archbold’s new short film entitled ‘The Science of Life’, highlighting their experiences. The film is by Jennifer Brown from Into Nature Films and can be viewed on Archbold’s Vimeo channel at

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Who inherits the castle? Dispersal in Birds

Who inherits the castle? In medieval times, or in the Game of Thrones, it was always the eldest son. Daughters were often sent great distances to wed the sons of other dynasties. Younger sons had a tough decision to make – stay and serve their older brothers or venture forth trying to make their own fortune. It was a rigid system driven by a cold hard reality; there were far more children than there were castles. Most of the offspring had to leave their home. Continue reading

Growing Scientists at Archbold

Once a door is open here, it doesn’t close,” states Alan Rivero, who is finishing up an internship and starting a seasonal research position at Archbold Biological Station. “Archbold has a direct impact on the community and this is reflected in the two of us,” continues Rivero, referring to himself and Lexi Siegle. The two both grew up in Highlands County and both worked this summer as environmental education interns for Archbold’s Ecology Summer Camp for seven to twelve year old children. The internships were part of their lifelong associations with Archbold, and their parallel development from childhood campers to professional biologists. Their stories are also an example of the positive role a biological field station can have on local students. Continue reading

Frog calls in your backyard

While you are staying in one of Archbold’s cottages, was delighted to hear a chorus of frog calls each evening, one of the many special surprises visitors who spend the night on the station have the pleasure to experience. Complied here are WHO’s notes on each species’ individual call, along with photos of each species. Where available, a sound bite of each species’ call is also provided. Simply click on the species’ photo, and the audio recording will open in a pop-up window. Pay attention, and next time you hear a frog call in your backyard, you may be able to identify it! Continue reading

Spiders in Fire-Dependent Florida Scrub

The vast majority of the 171 spider species that are stored as specimens in the Archbold Collection of Arthropods live in arid scrub habitats that are maintained by periodic fires. “If I walk across acre after acre of scrub shortly after an intense fire has burned over it, the spiders seem to be completely absent,” claims Dr. Jim Carrel, Archbold Research Associate. “Clear evidence of this is that no spider webs are visible on the thousands and thousands of charred stems, regardless of where you look hour after hour.” Yet, Dr. Carrel and other scientists know that within a few years, for all intents and purposes they will be back. This raises the intriguing question: how does the spider community reassemble itself after Florida scrub is burned? Continue reading

New discoveries by Archbold interns: pygmy mole crickets, fairy shrimp, and newts

New discoveries can happen anywhere; sometimes, literally right under our feet. At Archbold Biological Station, you might notice small, raised piles of sand right after a rain. If you carefully scrape away the sand, a tiny, shining black cricket is revealed. This is the Archbold Pygmy Mole Cricket first described by Drs. Mark Deyrup and Tom Eisner in 1996. It is a fascinating little creature that is specialized for existence in open sandy patches of Florida scrub, feeding on blue-green algae that grows just below the surface of the sand. Archbold Entomology Intern Brandon Woo became enamored with these crickets, and soon realized that there was much more to learn. “Nobody has carefully explored other sand ridge habitats in Florida for pygmy mole crickets. Since the scrub-adapted ones are flightless, there is a high potential that new species are scattered around the state,” he explained. Encouraged by Archbold Entomologist Dr. Mark Deyrup, Woo has been visiting various scrub habitats to find more of these crickets. He has confirmed that the Archbold Pygmy Mole Cricket also lives at the Avon Park Air Force Range, and has found what appears to be a new species of Pygmy Mole Cricket in the Ocala National Forest. In addition, Deyrup collected specimens of yet another new species from the northern Lake Wales Ridge in Polk County. Woo is currently describing this species. “I think these crickets really show that anyone, young people included, can go out into the field and make important discoveries. Archbold is a great place to jump-start such an adventure,” he says. Continue reading

Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch wins multiple awards at Florida Cattlemen’s

On June 19, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association kicked off its three-day Annual Convention in Championsgate, FL. The Florida Cattlemen’s Association is “a statewide, non-profit organization, established in 1934, devoted to promoting and protecting the ability of cattlemen members to produce and market their products.” Filled with exhibition hall booths, a trade show, educational seminars, auctions, a banquet, and social events, the Convention is a time to socialize, network, learn, play, and relax. Their theme this year was “share your passion,” and Archbold Biological Station’s Buck Island Ranch sent a passionate crew of researchers and ranchers to attend the event, including Executive Director Dr. Hilary Swain, Director of Research Dr. Betsey Boughton, and Ranch Manager Gene Lollis. Continue reading

Queen of Red Hill

Written by Hilary Swain, Jennifer Brown (Into Nature Films), and Betsie Rothermel

Archbold Biological Station has a new leading lady. She is the star of the film, ‘Queen of Red Hill,’ just released online at Archbold’s Vimeo and Youtube channels. Her name is Number 21, that is, Gopher Tortoise 21. At 60+ years old, she is one of the ‘grande dames’ of the Gopher Tortoise community living on the Red Hill at Archbold. She landed her role, vividly portraying her sandy, underground realm, because her story is Archbold’s story. She is emblematic of a tale told throughout wild Florida – loss of home, survival, and eventual recovery. Continue reading

Archbold Beetle Survey

Insects are present in virtually every habitat and many are attracted to lights at night, particularly moths, mayflies, flies, and of particular interest, beetles. Archbold Biological Station hosts an impressive number of beetle species within its unique habitats, many of which are found only in central Florida. What beetles live at Archbold and how these populations change over time is of prime interest to scientists and ecologists seeking to preserve the unique and fragile Florida scrub habitat. Continue reading

Water, water everywhere

During the winter and spring of 2017-2018, Archbold Biological Station’s property was completely dried out. The dry and hot spring weather turned seasonal wetlands into beds of dried grass, soaked soils into flaky crusts, and green and springy vegetation into crunchy and dry fuel. One of the quotes at the entrance of Archbold’s Frances Archbold Hufty Learning Center is by Benjamin Franklin: “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” And indeed, now that the summer rains have arrived, starting with a record breaking amount of rainfall in May 2018, Archbold is well-equipped to care for every drop of water that comes its way. Water is essential to all life, after all. Continue reading

Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch wins multiple awards at Florida Cattlemen’s

On June 19, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association kicked off its three-day Annual Convention in Championsgate, FL. The Florida Cattlemen’s Association is “a statewide, non-profit organization, established in 1934, devoted to promoting and protecting the ability of cattlemen members to produce and market their products.” Filled with exhibition hall booths, a trade show, educational seminars, auctions, a banquet, and social events, the Convention is a time to socialize, network, learn, play, and relax. Their theme this year was “share your passion,” and Archbold Biological Station’s Buck Island Ranch sent a passionate crew of researchers and ranchers to attend the event, including Executive Director Dr. Hilary Swain, Director of Research Dr. Betsey Boughton, and Ranch Manager Gene Lollis. Continue reading

Archbold’s Dr. Reed Bowman wins prestigious ornithology award

Dr. Reed Bowman, Director of the Avian Ecology Program at Archbold Biological Station, received the Margaret Morse Nice Medal from the Wilson Ornithological Society. This award is “the premier ornithological award bestowed by the Wilson Ornithological Society” and is given to individuals who “exemplify scientific curiosity, creativity and insight, concern for the education of young and amateur ornithologists, and leadership as an innovator and mentor,” said Dr. Sara Morris, past President of the organization. Continue reading

Archbold joins museums around the world for International Museum Day

On Friday, May 18, Archbold Biological Station was one of seven Highlands County museums and one of more than 37,000 museums across 156 countries that celebrated International Museum Day. Each year, the International Council of Museums chooses a theme for the celebratory day, one that lies “at the heart of the concerns of society.” This year the organization featured “Hyperconnected Museums: New Approaches, New Publics.” Hyperconnectivity refers to “the multiple means of communication we have today, such as face-to-face contact, email, instant messaging, telephone, or internet,” states the International Council of Museums. “This global network of connections becomes each day more complex, diverse, and integrated.” Continue reading

Archbold visits New York Botanical Garden, compares plant collections

Last Friday Archbold Biological Station’s Executive Director, Dr. Hilary Swain, had the opportunity to visit the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, NY. Swain, accompanied by Archbold Board of Trustees members Mary Hufty, Lela Love, and Vevie Lykes Dimmitt, and Archbold Director of Philanthropy Deborah Pollard, enjoyed a special tour of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium and the LuEsther Mertz Library. They were hosted by staff members Doug Daly, Curator of Amazonian Botany and Director of the Institute of Systematic Botany, and John Mitchell, Honorary Curator. “The New York Botanical Garden is an iconic living museum, a major educational institution, and a plant research and conservation organization,” Daly explained while on the tour. “Founded in 1891, this has always been a botanical garden with a conservation mission – to conduct basic and applied research on the plants of the world with the goal of protecting and preserving them.”

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Going Native: The “Right Place, Right Plant” Perspective on Landscaping

Back in 2011, when Archbold Biological Station added two state-of-the-art buildings to its facility, known as the Adrian Archbold Lodge and Frances Archbold Hufty Learning Center, the decision was to “go native” with the landscaping around the buildings. Bringing their inspiration to life was the work of Nancy Bissett of The Natives, located in Davenport, Florida. Together as a team, Bissett and Archbold Biological Station designed the entire 2-acres surrounding the buildings using only plants native to this region. Bissett also grew and planted a total of nearly 12,000 individual plants of more than 75 species for the project. The open vista of native plants surrounding the buildings is now a peaceful, aesthetic setting and serves as a beautiful living display to educate visitors. Continue reading

Camper Turned Professor Invites Archbold Into the Classroom

I think Florida would be the most tricky weather you could have to go out as a biologist and do research,” reflects student Timothy Hobbs, after seeing a presentation from a local wildlife biologist in the Introducing Biology class offered at the South Florida State College’s Lake Placid campus. Fellow classmate, Sarah Moretto offers, “It was very interesting. Not my field of work, but definitely cool to learn about.” The presenter, Archbold Biological Station’s Emily Angell, had just given a slideshow presentation on her career as a biologist, highlighting her work in Florida and other sites throughout North America. Emily, along with her husband, Archbold’s Education Coordinator Dustin Angell, both visited the class this spring at the invitation of one of the college’s newest professors, Amy Bohan. Continue reading

Archbold and University of Florida take the national stage

On April 22, Archbold Biological Station and the University of Florida (the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona, Hardee county), collectively sent a team of delegates to the weeklong annual meeting of the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network held in El Reno, Oklahoma. “LTAR is a national initiative by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose goal is to build knowledge to sustainably intensify agriculture, while minimizing or reversing environmental impact,” explains LTAR Data Manager Shefali Azad. “The network currently consists of 18 sites across the continental United States, each with a long-term history in agricultural and ecological research. The Archbold-University of Florida collaboration comprises one site.” Continue reading

A Walk Through Time: Architecture, science, and conservation the making of a historic landmark

The early morning mist lifts over pine trees and oak shrubs as you start down the driveway to Archbold Biological Station. You are entering the ancient wilderness of the Florida scrub, one of North America’s most threatened ecosystems. At the end of the drive a vista opens to reveal the Station’s buildings. You have arrived at one of the world’s great biological field stations, renowned not only for its scientific discoveries and conservation leadership, but also its remarkable architectural history. In 2007, the U.S. Department of the Interior listed Archbold Biological Station at Red Hill on the National Register of Historic Places. But how did this all come together, and why here, in remote south-central Florida?

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Cameras on the Kissimmee

Nature photography comes naturally to most of us. A magnificent sunset, a beautiful flower, or an impressive bird can inspire us to raise our cameras and take a picture. Some of the earliest photographers were aiming their lenses at nature, too. Carleton Watkins’s images of California’s Yosemite region even helped convince Congress to establish our country’s first federally protected park in 1864. Nature photography that helps protect the wildlife and places it depicts is called “conservation photography.”

For science and conservation organizations like Archbold Biological Station, photography is an essential tool in community outreach to teach about and foster appreciation for nature. Recently, Archbold’s Education Coordinator Dustin Angell was invited to work with the Riverwoods Field Labratory (RFL) to teach an evening photography workshop as part of a boat tour on the Kissimmee River. Angell, who is also a conservation photographer, worked with RFL to create a workshop that would show people how they could use their photos to bring awareness to the ongoing restoration of the river, the largest river restoration in the world.

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Archbold and the Florida Wildlife Corridor

The Florida Wildlife Corridor team has just completed its third expedition. Unlike the team’s first two 1,000-mile expeditionsEverglades to Okefenokee in 2012 and Glades to Gulf in 2015which took 100 days and 70 days respectively, this recent Heartland to Headwaters adventure was a mini-trek lasting just one week, from April 15-22. Cheering on the team at their kick-off event were Archbold board members and staff. Archbold has been an important science and conservation partner for the Corridor since the beginning. Continue reading

Buck Island Ranch: Forging a Way to Sustainable Ranching

Among the challenges of the 21st century is doing agriculture in a way that supplies enough food for a burgeoning global population, while also sustaining natural biodiversity, nature’s services, and economic viability. Cattle ranching is a key industry for developing these sustainable practices, and is especially relevant to Florida. Florida is one of the oldest and largest cattle-producing states in America, dating back to five hundred years ago when cattle was introduced by Spanish explorers. Ranching remains a vibrant part of Florida’s economy, culture, and heritage. Continue reading

Putting Florida on the Map

Environmental Educators from eight southeastern states gather each year for a regional conference that is organized by a professional group from one of the participating states. At the meetings, educators sharpen their skills and share their ideas. This year the honor came to Florida for the first time. On March 16-18, the League of Environmental Educators in Florida (LEEF) hosted the 6th Annual Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance Conference at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. The multi-day event drew over 225 educators from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Sharing the Master of Ceremonies role with LEEF’s Past President and Conference Chair Barbara Stalbird, was Archbold Biological Station’s Education Coordinator and current LEEF President Dustin Angell. Continue reading

Dr. James N. Layne Collection: A Look at the Ecological History of Highlands County

Ever since Richard Archbold founded his biological field station in 1941, continuous scientific exploration has been occurring in Highlands County, Florida. For more than 75 years, staff and visiting scientists at Archbold have worked towards understanding the life histories and ecology of the plants and animals that live here. This long history of exploration, study, and conservation fosters an awareness for the changes in the landscape of Highlands County that have occurred. Continue reading

Local Woodpeckers Adapt to Hurricanes

If you live in the south, hurricanes are a part of life. As humans, in 2017 we prepared by tracking the radar, stocking up on supplies, boarding up our windows, and if necessary, evacuating entirely. However, what about the local wildlife? What if you’re a woodpecker that lives in a tree – a tree that can be knocked over or even snapped in hurricane-force winds? Continue reading

Tracking Panthers in Highlands County

“My passion is endangered cats,” says biologist Dr. Jennifer Korn, who studies Florida panthers. Most of these panthers live in South Florida, but Korn focuses on the ones in the rest of the state. Until recently, that meant only the few adventurous South Florida males who crossed the Caloosahatchee River in search of territory and mates. But after photo proof of a mother and kittens on Babcock Ranch Preserve, Charlotte County, in March 2017 – the first clear documentation of a female north of the river in over 40 years – Korn’s work got more exciting. Also in March, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists documented a second female north of the river, near Venus, Florida, Highlands County, just a few miles from Archbold Biological Station. Continue reading

John A Roebling II: 150th Birthday of Famous Highlands County Resident

On November 21st 2017, Archbold Biological Station will celebrate a great man’s 150th birthday. “Though none of us ever had the pleasure to meet John Augustus Roebling II,” Fred Lohrer, Librarian at Archbold states, “he has had a profound influence on all of our lives. Without his purchase of a large tract of pristine scrub habitat south of Lake Placid almost 100 years ago, and his subsequent donation of that property to Richard Archbold in 1941, none of the decades of ecological research Archbold Biological Station engages in would have been possible.” Continue reading

Florida – a Watery Crossroads for Fish

One of the charms of fishing is the chance to spend a few hours relaxing in natural surroundings, far from the pressures of everyday life. However, beneath the calm surface of the water, is a world of coexistence, aggression, and predation involving a diverse cast of characters—fishes, amphibians such as frogs, crustaceans such as freshwater crayfish, mollusks, aquatic insects, plants, and algae. Like a global metropolis, South and Central Florida’s wetlands, lakes, and canals today host aquatic creatures from many continents; some native to Florida while others have been introduced by humans. The changing mix of species and environmental conditions pose questions such as—where are recently introduced fishes coming from? How do they interact with native plants and animals? And how do human impacts such as nutrients from fertilizer and resulting algal blooms affect fishes? Dr. Amartya Saha, Ecohydrologist at Archbold says, “These kind of issues need to be explored in order to maintain healthy and diverse aquatic ecosystems and the services they provide, ranging from recreational fisheries to maintaining water quality.” Continue reading

Living and Working at Buck Island Ranch

Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch, a 10,500-acre working ranch, is home to the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center and provides researchers the opportunity to find solutions for sustaining economic and ecological values of working landscapes. For research assistants, interns, and volunteers at Buck Island Ranch, typical data collection ranges from collecting feral hog ‘dung’ in the middle of day, sampling plants in wetlands wearing waders at 90°F or surveying wildlife during heavy rain, to name just a few. Continue reading

Plants, Drought, and Hurricanes

When Eric Menges, Program Director of the Plant Ecology Program, started working at Archbold Biological Station in 1988, it seemed to him like an ideal job combining two of his main research interests. It allowed him to study an ecosystem with many rare plants, and it was a landscape where events such as fire and hurricanes (as we all know) were common. Working previously in the Midwest, Menges had spent many hours studying prairie fire and how a particular rare plant responded. Menges recalls “While I discovered a lot about this one plant species, my conclusions about the role of fire on rare prairie plants were limited”. Continue reading

Florida’s Ranchland Water Solution

The next time it rains in central Florida, some of that water will likely flow across a cattle ranch on its way to Lake Okeechobee. Ranchers are working with South Florida Water Management District to hold back (retain) water in some of the ditches and wetlands on their property during the wet season. Archbold Biological Station’s MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center (MAERC) (Buck Island Ranch) is participating and monitoring this program called the Northern Everglades Payment for Environmental Services (NE-PES). Continue reading

Preserving Plants: Archbold’s Leonard J. Brass Herbarium

Opening the door to one of several imposing, hunter green cabinets, Stephanie Koontz carefully pulls out some large folders labeled with plant names. She sets them on the table and gently opens one up. “A herbarium is more than just sheets of pressed and dried plants” says Koontz, a Research Assistant in the Plant Ecology Program at Archbold Biological Station. “It is a record documenting changes in individual plants and plant communities over time.” Herbariums are collections of preserved plant specimens that are organized by plant species name. The large sheet of special archive paper has a dried and flattened plant glued to it. In the bottom right corner is a label with the plant name, collection date, who collected it, and location information about where the collection was made. “This sheet here was collected back in September 1945 by Leonard Brass, Archbold’s first botanist appointed by Richard Archbold when the Station was founded in 1941,” states Koontz. “Look at its excellent condition! When properly collected and pressed, these records will last at least 100 years.” Continue reading

Using Maps for Conservation Efforts

At Archbold Biological Station, we make a lot of maps. There are many uses for maps and we use them to support our mission of Research, Conservation, and Education. We look at maps to make management decisions for the species or landscape that we are studying, we create maps to help us solve research questions, and we share maps with the public and elected officials to explain environmental topics. GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, is the main tool used to look at, create, and share maps. Vivienne Sclater, GIS and Data Manager at Archbold Biological Station says, “GIS is a very powerful piece of computer software that allows you to look at many different aspects of a map at once. You have the freedom to visualize how things interact with each other within a specific landscape. GIS has many different applications, from determining the best location for a new branch of your store, to predicting where an endangered species might exist based on the environmental conditions in a location where you know it occurs”. GIS is very useful for conservation work and Archbold has been very active in the Society for Conservation GIS since they started over 20 years ago. Continue reading

Archbold Weathers Hurricane Irma

Archbold Biological Station Executive Director Hilary Swain was up early in the morning of the 11th September, after the major winds from Hurricane Irma had passed through. She surveyed the scene from the water tower. The main Station buildings, constructed like a steel and concrete fortress, looked intact. Most other Archbold buildings survived with no major structural damage, although the whole campus was a disheveled mess of trees and twisted branches. Most of the trees that fell were large, old laurel oaks planted years ago, and not typical of the native Florida scrub at Archbold. Laurel oaks often have rotten centers and are very vulnerable to storm events. Amazingly very few trees fell on buildings. Archbold Biological Station was lucky! Continue reading

Hidden Pastures: Florida Scrub is a Special Habitat

Scientists from all over come to Highlands County, where they join resident scientists at the Archbold Biological Station to explore the special habitat called Florida scrub. An obvious feature of Florida scrub are patches of open sand where nothing grows. Or so it seems. Some years ago, scientists at Archbold noticed that after a rain tiny trails appeared in the sand, as if a microscopic mole were burrowing just below the surface. Equipped with nothing but curiosity and pocket knives, the scientists carefully scraped away sand above the burrows, discovering that each trail ended in a little cricket a quarter of an inch long, shiny black with reddish knees. It turned out that the cricket was new to science, so Archbold entomologist Mark Deyrup and Cornell entomologist Thomas Eisner described it, naming it Neotridactylus archboldi, in memory of Richard Archbold, who founded the Station and protected the land where the cricket was discovered. Continue reading

Garrett’s Mint a Rare Breed: Plant was Discovered in Sebring in 1940s

Highlands County is home to one of the highest concentration of rare plants in North America. Most of these rare species occur in Florida scrub, the shrubby habitat many Highlands County residents see every day, from the undeveloped lot in residential neighborhoods to the intact expanses at conservation sites. Among these rare species, some are the rarest of the rare. “There are a handful of plants in this area so close to extinction that human intervention is necessary for their survival,” states Stacy Smith, Research Assistant in the Plant Ecology Program at Archbold Biological Station. “Interventions to help these rare plants, such as the creation of new populations (introductions), or adding new plants to existing populations (augmentations), have been carried out by Archbold over the past few decades. One species requiring this special treatment is an odoriferous (strong smell) shrub called Garrett’s Mint (Dicerandra christmanii).” Continue reading

The Birds Go Digital: Archbold Bird Collection Enters the Digital Age

The Archbold Biological Station Biological Collection houses hundreds of thousands of preserved specimens of animals and plants. In an ongoing effort, Archbold scientists, interns, and volunteers have been working together to digitize and post the Archbold Collection online. The last day of July marked the end of the second year of this digitization project. “During the first year, we focused on digitizing our insect and plant collections,” says assistant curator Stephanie Leon. “This second year, along with continuing the insects and plants, we also digitized the Archbold bird collection.” Continue reading

Into Archbold: By Guest Writer Rick Anderson

Jennifer Brown’s attention to the rolling landscape of the Lake Wales Ridge happened during one of her first trips to Highlands County. Her companion pointed out the barely noticeable rise ahead on a drive up Old State Road 8 in Venus. “My eyes were quickly trained to notice this subtle topography of the Ridge”, said Brown, a nature documentary filmmaker living and working in Venus since 2012. She said, “I began to understand that this part of Florida was different and learning how different became my journey.” Continue reading

Volunteers Key for Archbold: They Play a Large Role in Helping Organization Fulfill its Goals

“I work with the kids at summer camp. What a joy when I see and hear them having so much fun while learning about nature. There is no better reward,” says Pat Talbott, who volunteered over 100 hours during this season of Archbold’s Ecology Summer Camp. Pat was recruited three years ago by his friend and long-time Archbold volunteer, Lee Andrus. The organization relies on Talbott, Andrus, and more than 65 other volunteers each year to help with outreach as well as land management, scientific research, events, and many other activities. Last year, volunteers contributed more than 3,000 hours of services to the organization. Continue reading

Secret Lives of Spiders: The Majority of Spiders are Not Seen by People

The vast majority of spiders around Lake Placid are never seen. This is good news to many folks, for the fear and loathing of arachnids (that’s spiders) is as common in central Florida as it is everywhere else. Dr. Jim Carrel, Research Associate at Archbold Biological Station and former professor at the University of Missouri, said, “In my 50 years of doing research at the Archbold Biological Station, I have had hundreds of people tell me that they don’t like spiders. And some refuse to come into the building after they learn that I am a ‘Spider Doctor’, even after I assure them that there aren’t any live spiders in my lab. But if you find spiders interesting, as I do, then you are willing to go out of your way to locate them.” Continue reading

Florida Scrub-Jay Surveys

If you have any scrub-jays in your yard at this time of year you may have noticed some have heads that are brown, instead of their typical blue. These brown-headed scrub-jays are the young of this year and you can see them flying around and begging their parents for food. This distinctive plumage allows scientists at Archbold Biological Station to distinguish between adults and juveniles. Dr. Angela Tringali, biologist at Archbold Biological Station says, “Being able to tell juvenile and adult Florida Scrub-Jays apart is important because it tells us if the breeding season has been successful. At Archbold, where the scrub-jays are individually marked and monitored, we already have that information. But at places where the scrub-jays are not monitored year-round, counting the jays at this time of year gives us important information about how well each family-group is reproducing.” Continue reading

Richard Archbold and the Glades Electric: Archbold Biological Station Founder Played Key Role in Founding Electric Co-Op

Richard Archbold was a world renowned explorer, conservationist and philanthropist. He spent his life travelling to new uncharted regions, learning about previously unknown plants and animals, and using his resources to further understanding about the natural world. With the onset of WWII in 1939 Mr. Archbold had to put his explorations on hold. As a result he began a search for an area in the USA that could be his scientific base of operations. Continue reading

Island Apple Snails: Non-Native Snail Has Pros and Cons

If you were an Island Apple Snail originally from South America and invading the subtropical wetlands of Florida, would your ease of travel, even at a snail’s pace, matter more or less than your destination? This is the research question that Steffan Pierre, Research Assistant at Archbold’s Buck island Ranch is examining. Steffan completed his Master’s thesis research at University of Central Florida on this very subject. Continue reading

A Frenzy of Frogs and Fish: Many Make the Move to Small, Temporary Ponds

Florida is known for water. From freshwater springs and rivers down to coastal estuaries and the blue ocean, water is everywhere in our state. Here in Highlands County, our landscape is filled with lakes. But what about in the Florida scrub, the high dry sandy ridges that run throughout our region? Dig down into these sandy soils and you will soon hit water, except at the highest elevations. Even here, scattered throughout the scrub, the shallow depressions in the sand become seasonal ponds that typically fill and dry during our wet season from June through November. But seasonal rainfall and sandy soil mean that water is not necessarily available for long. Continue reading