ESRI Conservation Program: GIS Stories from the field

Archbold Biological Station

Archbold Biological Station (ABS) was founded in 1941 by Richard Archbold, who lived at the Station and played an active role in its operation until his death in August, 1976. It is supported by Archbold Expeditions, a non-profit biological research organization established by Mr. Archbold, and is an affiliate of the American Museum of Natural History. The 2024 ha property serves as an important preserve for the highlands habitats of southern Florida and an invaluable resource for staff and visiting scientists.

The Station is located on the Lake Wales Ridge about 11 km from its southern terminus. Elevations on the main property range from 35 to 65 m. The Ridge is a more elevated portion of a general upland area (the Central Highlands) that extends down the center of the peninsula from northern Florida. All available evidence indicates that marine influences at times of higher sea levels played an important role in the formation of the Ridge. One major former shoreline, the Okefenokee, at about 46 m above present sea level, is found on the main Station property. All major terrestrial habitats of the Ridge are found at ABS. These are predominately xeric shrublands and woodlands dominated by shrubby oaks, pines and hickory, but also include mesic flatwoods, baytree forests (bayheads) and swales. Further diversity is provided by small areas of ruderal habitats. Aquatic habitats on the main property include 90-acre Lake Annie, the southernmost lake of the LWR, a small sink hole pond, hundreds of seasonal ponds and several ditches. ABS also owns 3 small satellite tracts on nearby lakes that provide aquatic habitats absent from the main property.

The primary mission of the Station is to foster research. A resident staff of four research biologists, several post doctoral associates and four research associates have approximately 75 active research projects. These emphasize the ecology and evolutionary biology of organisms native to southern Florida, especially the highlands. About 40 visiting scientists per year use the Station's facilities. Their studies cover the entire spectrum of modern biology, including behavior, physiology, genetics, anatomy, embryology, biochemistry, ecology, and systematics. Lengths of visits vary from a brief period of a day or two to several months or longer. Many workers return year after year for continuing studies. About 850 scientific papers and books have been based on work conducted at the Station. INTEGRATED LAND MANAGEMENT AND RESEARCH Fire is a major ecological factor in most of Florida and many upland habitats of ABS are adapted to frequent burning. Therefore, fire is a key component of both research and land management at the Station. Natural and prescribed fire are mapped in detail using GIS technology. A detailed 30-year record of fire history, plus ample opportunity to prescribe and conduct research burns, provides one of the finest research sites for fire ecologists anywhere in the United States.

SCGIS Papers: A method of evaluating the relative isolation of red-cockaded woodpecker clusters. (1997 SCGIS paper, Leslie K. Backus*, Reed Bowman, D. L. Leonard and Allison Mains, Archbold Biological Station, Lake Placid, Florida 33852. ) .

EFFECTS OF GEOGRAPHY ON GENETIC VARIATION OF SIX NARROWLY-ENDEMIC FLORIDA SCRUB PLANTS . (1997 SCGIS paper: Principal Investigator: Dr. Eric Menges, Presenter: Christina M. Casado)


Text and graphics: Archbold Biological Station
January 2, 1997, Hilary Swain, Executive Director, P.O. Box 2057 Lake Placid, FL 33852-2057 Phone: (941) 465-2571, Fax: 941-699-1927, e-mail:

Web layout & design: ESRI Conservation Program, January 2, 1996

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