Archbold: The Lake Wales Ridge

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A Florida Scrub Jay perches in prime Dry Scrub habitat. Archbold Biological Station, Florida

I spent a couple days at the Archbold Biological Station earlier this month working on a project focusing on the Florida Scrub Jay and its habitats.  As I have previously written, this is the location for Florida Scrub Jay research and a prime location for the beautiful scrub habitat that these birds call home.

Archbold sits on a much larger geological formation known as the Lake Wales Ridge.  This ridge is comprised of remnant sand dunes from a time when Florida was nearly covered by oceans.  Now, it is called a ridge but don’t let that fool you.  We are talking about elevation changes of a few feet, but these small differences make a huge difference.

This area doesn’t get any less rain then the rest of the state, but the scrub here is xeric, meaning it is extremely dry.  What makes the region so incredible is that the soil is essentially about 200 feet of pure white sand; after all, it was once a beach.  It is this soil that creates such a dry environment, as it simply doesn’t hold water, but instead drains extremely rapidly.

The plants and animals found in these environments are often quite unique and there are a large number of endemic plants that can be found throughout the various microhabitats found on the Lake Wales Ridge.  For the purposes of my visit, I focused on the scrub habitat as it is the prime habitat for the Florida Scrub Jay and over the next few days, I’ll be sharing with you a series of panoramas to illustrate some of the fascinating natural history of this environment and its inhabitants.

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  1. How interesting about the soil and this area being so dry. And again I love the interactive panorama. Makes me feel like I’m right there.

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