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Fire in the florida scrub

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Central Florida receives more lightning strikes than any other region in the United States. Lightning-ignited fires have always been a part of life in the scrub. Plants and animals that live in this habitat are dependent on fire to maintain their world. Before Florida became so carved up by cities, roads, and housing developments, fires easily burned through scrub habitat at intervals of 6-20 years. These fires did not burn the landscape completely, but left small unburned patches that served as little refuges from which insects and other small animals could move back into the burned area. Seeds could blow over onto sand left bare by the fire. Other plants resprouted from underground stems. A mosaic of scrub that varied in stages of growth was created by fire.

As more and more people moved into Florida, these wildfires became more threatening. People were afraid of fire and interpreted the dramatic changes as destructive. Instead of being allowed to burn, fires were suppressed for decades. Florida scrub and other fire-maintained habitats such as flatwoods, prairies, and sandhill suffered as a result.

Emerald moth caterpillar on Florida rosemary

ithout fire, the scrub habitat changes. In overgrown scrub, plants create so much shade and leaf litter that the open, sandy patches disappear and so do the species that prefer them. Canopy closure reduces or eliminates habitat for Florida mice, pygmy mole crickets, scrub lizards, and sand skinks. Overgrown oaks produce fewer acorns for animals such as Florida scrub-jays, Florida mice, black bear and acorn weevils. Other fire-dependent animals include gopher tortoises and gopher frogs.
Many scrub plants are also fire-dependent. Florida rosemary needs fire to reproduce. Rosemary releases a chemical into the soil that inhibits the germination of its own seeds. When the fire kills the parent plant, the seeds are able to sprout. And if Florida rosemary disappeared, so would the emerald moth. The caterpillar of this moth lives exclusively on Florida rosemary and has two different larval forms. If developing in spring, it mimics a rosemary needle, while its winter form resembles a gray, knobby, dead rosemary twig.

Sand pine

Grasses in the scrub bloom better after a fire, and the seeds of many plants such as scrub lupines and other legumes and scrub buckwheat germinate better with fire. Heat may be a requirement for germination of many types of seeds. Sand pines invite fire into the tree by growing low, close to the ground branches. Many sand pine cones will open and drop seeds only after being scorched. Scrub oaks, lyonias, and other shrubs grow clonally with much of the plant underground. New sprouts will spring up after a fire from the protected underground stems.


Florida mouse

any species of small animals that inhabit the scrub, such as ants, Florida mice, gopher frogs, mole crickets, and ox beetles, have ways to flee from fire, or find refuge in an existing burrow beyond the reach of the heat. Nevertheless, some kinds of little animals, such as the little caterpillars living in a cluster of blueberry leaves, or the gall wasps in their galls on oak twigs, are burned up and their populations are temporarily reduced. But fire is similar to winter in northern states---where many little plants and animals are killed by hard freezes. These species, however, have winter built into their long-term survival strategies. Both the insects and the plants are dependent on winter. If the season were eliminated, many species would disappear.
Now that we realize that many of Florida’s native species will disappear unless fire is introduced back into the habitats, people in charge of preserving and maintaining natural areas are including prescribed burns as part of their management. Prescribed burns, also called controlled burns, are intended to do three things: 1) mimic natural conditions, 2) maintain a variety of plant communities, and 3) decrease the amount of accumulated plant material, and thereby reduce the chance of devastating wildfires. A prescribed burn is not a one-time event, but a process that must be continually applied to the landscape.

The fire triangle can help students remember the three essential elements of fire: 1) fuel (living and non-living vegetation), 2) heat, and 3) oxygen. How hot or fast a fire burns can depend on the kind of fuel, if the fuel is wet or dry, the quantity of fuel, and weather conditions.

Prescribed burns require a lot of planning and are only conducted under the appropriate conditions. Drought index, relative humidity, and wind speed and direction must be considered. If conditions have been very dry, a prescribed burn can be very risky. Humidity affects a fire by changing how dry the fuel is. As the relative humidity decreases, fuel moisture decreases and the fire intensity increases. Wind speed will affect how fast a fire burns. Prescribed burns are not conducted on days with strong winds due to the increased risk of escape. Wind direction is important to consider especially if the prescribed burn occurs near homes and roads. Special permits, fire equipment, and individuals trained to work with fire are necessary elements of a prescribed burn.
When a prescribed burn is planned for a specific burn unit, information about relative humidity, fuel conditions, wind speed, wind direction, weather conditions, hazards, smoke sensitive, etc., must be included in the prescription.

A Prescribed Burn on School Property

Donna Tomlinson, a teacher at Cracker Trail Elementary School in Sebring, Florida, regularly took her 4th grade class out to explore a trail on school property. She knew what healthy scrub habitat was supposed to look like and knew their scrub and flatwoods was overgrown. She was also concerned about the accumulated fuels. Donna called the Florida Division of Forestry (DOF) and discovered that the area had not burned in 20 years. In 1997, DOF agreed to do a prescribed burn and wrote a prescription. Then they waited for the small window of opportunity to open. The 15-20 acres they planned to burn was close to school buildings so students could not be present when the burn took place. Finally, when conditions were right, DOF, with the help of many trained volunteers, burned the area in sections. Donna was able to participate by creating black lines with a drip torch.
Initially, students were upset by the “destruction.” With Donna’s guidance, however, they eventually saw the value of the burn for themselves. With the principal’s permission, Donna took her students out three days after the fire. Although stumps were still smoldering, plants were already emerging from the charred ground. Her class explored the burn area twice a week for several weeks and watched as plants, spiders, animal tracks, and insects returned.


  1. burn unit- designated area to burn during a prescribed burn.

  2. black line- a line created by flames from a drip torch to preburn fuels on the edge of a burn unit and help secure a prescribed burn.

  3. drip torch- hand held apparatus used to ignite a fire by dripping flaming liquid fuel on vegetation to be burned.

  4. drought index- a rating system that uses the high temperature and precipitation to calculate the amount of moisture in the surface layers of the soil.

  5. fuel-accumulated living and non-living flammable vegetation.


How do scientists study scrub? With a notebook and pencil, a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen, and long pants and stout boots. But to really answer this question, we must first ask another question - what is science? Science is a method of study, a way of asking and answering questions about the world around us. The first and most important step in the scientific method does not require years of training and schooling, although it helps.
Step One: Be Observant

The scientific method requires that we open our senses to the world around us. First we must observe what is happening in the natural world. We might observe that Florida scrub-jays appear to live in groups of more than two birds or that some scrub plants bear lots of flowers after a fire or that gopher tortoises share their burrows with other scrub animals. Then a well-trained scientist or even an eager school child will ask questions about these observations. This is the next step in the scientific method.

Step Two: Ask Questions


Florida scrub-jay

hat questions should we ask? We might ask questions that would explain what we observed, if only we knew the answer. For example, are the Florida scrub-jays that live in these groups related to each other? Do birds in large groups have more young than birds in small groups? We might also ask how often fires occur in scrub and how well do plants grow one, two, or three years after a fire. Which animals share the gopher tortoise’s burrow? Which burrows do they prefer and how do they benefit from using those burrows? These are just a few of the many questions we can ask, but to all these questions we might add another...why?

Step Three: Find the Answers

Once we’ve made our observations and asked our important questions, how do scientists actually study scrub? Well, it all depends on the questions we have asked. The third step in the scientific method is to make a list of different observations we need to make to answer our questions. Or we might think of an experiment we would like to conduct that would help us answer our questions. Let’s use scrub-jays as one example:

Example #1:

Question: How can we tell if the scrub-jays in a group are related to one another?
Research Design: To answer this question we would first need to be able to tell one jay from another. We can recognize different people and jays can recognize different jays, but we have a hard time telling one jay from another. So first, we must mark the jays so that we know individuals.

Devising methods to capture and mark birds without putting them at risk is very important. Scientists can capture scrub-jays alive in box traps baited with their favorite foods. Scientists then place a numbered aluminum band and different patterns of colored plastic bands on the scrub-jays’ legs before releasing them. Each jay has a different pattern of bands. Later, when we see a scrub-jay, we can observe its bands and look in our records to see where we trapped and banded that bird. Once many birds are banded, we can determine if these groups are always the same birds. (Three permits are needed to band scrub-jays; one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Office, one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Bird Banding Laboratory, and one from The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.)

If we find their nests, we can find out how many young they have and if their young stay with the family or if the group is formed by other birds that move in from other parts of the scrub. We can find out if different group sizes produce different numbers of young.
By trying to find all our banded birds each month we can determine how long they live, where they go, and if jays in large groups live longer than jays in small groups. You can see that the answers to our questions are starting to help us understand why scrub-jays live in groups. But a good scientist always studies the results of his observations or experiments to see if they suggest a better answer to the questions. That is the final step in the scientific method.
Example #2:

Question: What kind of relationship exists between scrub plants and fire?
Research Design: First, we need to know where and when fires have occurred. This means we might map every fire that occurs in our study site, enter the boundaries and dates of that fire into our computer. Then we have to find plants that are living in areas that burned at different times. When we have several different sites, each with a different fire history, then we examine the plants that live in each site. This is a type of experiment.
But, like the scrub-jays, scientists need to be able to follow the lives of individual plants. Often botanists, scientists that study plants, tie numbered markers to individual plants. They can count the number of flowers, the number of seeds per flower, the height of the plant, how many leaves it has. They can mark all the new seedlings each year and see how many are still alive the next year. Then they compare plants from the different sites. Which ones did the best? The answers to these questions might tell us a little about how frequently scrubs burned before man began to put the fires out.
Example #3

Question: What animals live underground in a gopher tortoise burrow?
Research Design: We might look into a burrow with a miniature video camera and see who is in there. Or we might carefully examine the different tracks leading into the burrow. We can measure the depth of the burrows with our video camera, find out if it is currently being used by a gopher tortoise and then census all the different animals that are using that burrow. Are some burrows better than other burrows? Why?

Step Four: Evaluation

We evaluate the answers to our questions. Often the results don’t match our expectations so we have to re-think our questions. Did we ask the appropriate question? Did we measure the right variable or conduct the right experiment? In the process of getting our answer, we usually generate more questions.
Many scientists have been observing and asking questions since they were children. We go to college to learn to ask better questions and to learn the different methods we can use to answer these questions. Since many of the questions are difficult to answer, scientists have to use many methods, some very complex. We use sophisticated radio transmitters to track the movement of animals through scrub. We use powerful computers to store and analyze data, and programs to map fires and different habitats. We use these computers to predict how animal or plant populations might respond to different fire patterns.
But often, scientists rely on a little old-fashioned common sense. To apply our common sense we have to know the lives and natural history of the plants and animals we study. Science begins with observations and kids that watch birds or butterflies or are interested in plants are really just young scientists.


Expect to work out a few rough spots during your initial outings. Generally, as you continue to take your class outside, you will have a better idea about what to expect and your students will become more relaxed and easier to manage.

  1. Be enthusiastic, eager, and interested (most important!).

  2. Let your principal know when and where you will be taking your class.

  3. Role play with your students before going out. (If “x” happens, what will you do?)

  4. Ask your students questions, questions, and more questions to stimulate their curiosity. Encourage them to ask questions, too.

  5. Make the boundaries for each activity very clear (flagging is helpful!).

  6. Give every student a job description.

  7. Divide students into small teams.

  8. Make sure they know the rules.

  9. Send students to the restroom before going out.

  10. Encourage parents to be chaperones. You can distribute a letter at the beginning of the school year to let parents know you plan on taking several field trips to explore native habitats.

  11. Enlist volunteers and give them specific duties on the day of the field trip. (Student nametags are very useful to helpers.)

  12. Have all your materials organized and ready to use.

  13. Have extras of everything!

  14. Explain the activity, review worksheets, and demonstrate techniques before you go out. Wait to hand out supplies and equipment once you get to the site, if possible. Use student helpers to carry supplies.

  15. Save your voice and use a whistle to round everyone up at the end of the activity (or at the end of a timed section).

  16. DON’T plan an activity right before lunch!

  17. Have students dress appropriately—hats, long pants if in thick scrub, no sandals.

  18. Know which students are allergic to insect stings and plan what you will do if a student gets stung.

  19. Avoid hot afternoons.

  20. Encourage scrub etiquette. (For example: When walking in a line through scrub, hold any branches that overhang the trail so the person behind you doesn’t get slapped in the face, warn the person behind you of cactus, holes in the ground, or thorny vines, etc.)

  21. Don’t expect perfection. Consider your first attempt a trial. Usually, the more you go out, the better it gets.

If you visit a scrub site away from school grounds:

  1. Make sure you reserve the bus well in advance and send permission slips out to parents with plenty of time to spare. Fully explain to parents what students will be doing during the field trip.

  2. Have a structured activity to keep students focused and involved while travelling to your site. Discuss your observations during the ride or walk back.

  1. Make sure you take water.

  2. Carry a cell phone or radio.

  3. Know where the bathrooms are (or go before you leave!)

  4. Take a well-stocked first aid kit.


Most likely, your trips out into the scrub will be free from accidents or injury. Use common sense, be observant, show respect for living things and you will probably never face the potential hazards below. Hazards include, but are not limited to the following:

Lightning can strike well ahead of a storm and up to 30 minutes after a storm has passed. Always be cautious if the weather looks threatening.

Heat/dehydration can be a serious problem, especially if your class is outside for hours. Always take water with you and encourage your students to wear hats.

Sunburn can be a threat any time of year. The reflective sand in scrub can intensify the sun’s rays. Use sunscreen and wear hats!
Cactus spines hurt!! Stay on the trails when possible and always watch to see where your next step will be.

Poison ivy is not adapted to scrub, but can be found in disturbed areas adjacent to scrub. Keep your eyes open for both the leaves and the “hairy” vines that grow up tree trunks.
Paper wasps often build small nests on palmetto fronds and can be difficult to see. Identify those students who are allergic to insect stings and be prepared to take action if someone gets stung.

Yellow jackets are ground nesters. Be alert to large numbers of yellow jackets you see moving in and out of a small hole. They may try and protect their nest if you get too close. There are solitary, ground-nesting wasps that are banded like yellow jackets, but do not live in large colonies. These solitary wasps never attack.

Saddleback caterpillars can be found chewing on oak and hickory leaves in spring, summer, and early fall. Their poisonous spines can deliver a painful sting. Scotch tape helps lift bristles off tender skin.
Diamondback rattlesnakes are very rare in scrub and instead prefer pine flatwoods. Except on cool winter mornings, rattlesnakes would probably flee in response to the chatter and vibrations of excited students.

Coral snakes are usually hidden under the sand and have sometimes been mistaken for scarlet king snakes. Although coral snakes are the most poisonous snake in Florida, they are extremely docile and rarely bite. To be safe, be sure to watch from a distance!

Velvet ants are solitary wasps. They are easy to spot by their bright red markings and the way they race around on the sand. Velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but will sting if handled. Watch them, but don’t pick them up!

Ticks and chiggers aren’t easy to spot but they can be easy to pick up! Sprinkle powdered sulfur (available at drugstores) or spray insect repellent on your socks, shoes, and calves. Try stuffing long pants into your socks to help keep these critters from crawling up your legs.
Dead animals are often very interesting to observe, but can harbor bacteria and disease. Use plastic gloves if you plan on handling one and wash your hands well afterwards.
Some mushrooms can be deadly poisonous if you eat them. Students should never put wild mushrooms in their mouths and should wash their hands after handling them.
Holes made by animals (concealed gopher tortoise holes, armadillo digging) can be hazardous if students aren’t watching where their next step will be.

When exploring scrub, students should wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and a hat. White or light-colored shirts reflect the sunlight and are more comfortable on sunny days than dark ones, which absorb light.


State and Federal Agencies
Division of Forestry (Department of Agriculture)

865 Geddie Road

Tallahassee, Florida 32304

phone 850-488-1871

web site:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

620 South Meridian Street

Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600

phone 850-488-4676

web site:

For a state or federal list of endangered species see
Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)

2379 Broad Street (U.S. 41 South)

Brooksville, Florida 34609-6899

phone 904-796-7211 or 1-800-423-1476

web site:
St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD)

P.O. Box 1429

Palatka, Florida 32178-1429

phone: 904-329-4500

web site:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Southeast Region (Division 4)

1875 Century NE Blvd.

Atlanta, Georgia

phone; 404-679-4000

web site:

To find a list of endangered species select “Endangered Species” from the bottom of their welcome page. You will be transferred to their “Endangered Species Home Page” ( Under “Species Information” you can choose one of two paths:

-Select “State Lists” to find an alphabetical list of Florida’s 99 endangered species.


-Select “Species List” and then “Index-Southeast Region #4 Listed Species” to find endangered species by taxonomic category.

Citizen Groups and Non-Profit Organizations

Archbold Biological Station

P.O. Box 2057

Lake Placid, Florida 33862


web site:

For good links to other scrub information sites start on the ABS Home page, go to “Regional Ecology and Biota” and select “The Lake Wales Ridge.” Scroll to the end and select “Lake Wales Ridge Bibliography.”
Bok Tower Gardens

1151 Tower Blvd.

Lake Wales, Florida 33853

phone: 863-676-1408

web site:
Florida Audubon Society

State Headquarters

1331 Palmetto Avenue Suite 110

Winter Park, FL 32789

phone: 401-539-5700

web site

Florida Native Plant Society

P.O. Box 6116

Spring Hill, Florida 34611-6116

web site:

The Nature Conservancy (Regional Office)

222 S. Westmonte Drive, Suite 300

Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714

phone: 407-682-3664

web site:

To find web pages of Florida Chapters begin on TNC’s Home page, select “Where We Work” and then “State and Regional Programs”. You will find a clickable map that leads to the Florida Chapter’s web pages.
The Nature Conservancy Lake Wales Office

225 E. Stuart Ave.

Lake Wales, Florida 33853

phone 941-678-1551

Sierra Club (Florida Office)

475 Central Ave., suite M1

St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

web site:

Other Web Sites

FLORIDATA-an electronic publication that includes information on Florida scrub and other native plants.

web site:

Other Sources

Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge (LWRNWR)

Headquarters: Merritt Island NWR

P.O. Box 6504, Titusville, FL 32782

phone: 407-861-0667.

North Brevard business directory web site: From their Home page select “Ecotourism” from the menus on the left side of the screen. Next select “Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge”, scroll down to the green box, and click on “Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge”.

Lake Wales Ridge State Forest

426 School Bus Road

Frostproof, FL 33843

phone: 941-635-7801

web site:
Popular Articles

Bass, G. 1988. Secrets of the Florida Scrub. The Nature Conservancy Magazine 338(4): 11-15.

Deyrup, M. and T. Eisner. 1993. Last stand in the sand. Natural History 102(12):42-47.—Insects of florida’s sand rides.
Deyrup, M. and T. Eisner. 1996. Photosynthesis beneath the sand in the land of the pygmy mole cricket. Pacific Discovery, Winter, 44-45.
Florida Audubon Society. 1992. A scrub issue. Florida Naturalist 65(1).—This issue is devoted to Florida’s scrub with articles about; “Florida’s vanishing scrub,” “Lake Wales Ridge Refuge,” “Recognizing scrub,” and “The Florida scrub jay.”
Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, Nongame Wildlife Program. 1990. Living treasures of the Florida scrub. Wild Florida, Volume 1.—Six-fold color poster and information brochure.
Florida Native Plant Society. 1999. The Palmetto (19)2. –This issue focuses on Florida’s dry places and plants with articles about “Dry places in the Florida landscape,” “Hidden patterns in the Florida scrub,” Saving Florida Ziziphus,” “Florida Bonamia,” and “Facts about fire in the native landscape.”
Fergus, C. 1993. Scrub: learning to love it. Audubon 95(3):100-104.
Jennings, M. 1997. The treasures of the Lake Wales Ridge. Endangered Species Bulletin 22(2):14-16.
Ripple, J. 1994. All in the family; the social life of the Florida scrub jay. Birder’s World 8(2):23-27.
Stap, D. 1994. Along a ridge in Florida, an ecological house built on sand. Smithsonian 25(6):36-45. (This article has been printed in a recent book: Ripple, J., and S. Cerulean. 1999. The wild heart of Florida. University Press of Florida.)



Cone ant, Dorymyrmex sp.

Fire ant, Solanopsis invicta

Fungus ant, Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

Harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius

Ant lions, (Family) Myrmeleontidae

Armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus

Ball moss, Tillansia recurvata


Blue tortoise beetle, Hemisphaerota cyanea

Darkling beetle, (Family) Tenebrionidae

Ox beetle, Strategus sp.

Pleasing fungus beetle, (Family) Erotylidae

Scrub scarab beetle, Geopsammodius relictillus


Rosemary caterpillar, Nemouria outina

Saddleback caterpillar, Sibine stimulea

Centipedes (Class) Chilopoda

Cockroach, (Family) Blattidae


Camel cricket, Ceuthophilus sp.

Painted ground cricket, Pictonemobius arenicola

Pygmy mole cricket, Neotridactylus archboldi


Flat-footed fly, (Family) Platypezidae

Humpback fly, (Family) Phoridae

Fruit fly, (Family) Drosophilidae

Fungus gnat, (Family names) Myletophilidae, Sciaridae


Gopher frog, Rana areolata

Squirrel tree frog, Hyla squirella

Blue-tailed mole skink, Eumeces egregius lividus

Bobcat, Lynx rufus

Common bobwhite, Colinus virginianus

Digger wasp, (Family) Larridae

Eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus

Eastern gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis

Eastern indigo snake, Drymarchon corais couperi

Earthstar (mushroom), Geoaster sp.

Eastern towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Emerald moth, Nemouria outina

Florida black bear, Ursus americanus floridanus

Florida scrub-jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens

Florida scrub lizard, Sceloporus woodi

Florida scrub millipede, Floridobolus penneri

Florida mouse, Podomys floridanus

Florida panther, Felis concolor coryi

Florida rosemary, Ceratiola ericoides

Highlands scrub St. John’s wort, Hypericum cumulicola

Gall wasp, (Superfamily) Cynipoidea

Gopher frog, Rana areolata

Gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus

Gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Lake Placid funnel wolf spider, Sosippus placidus

Lake Placid scrub mint, Dicerandra frutescens

Leafhopper, (Family) Cicadellidae

Leaf miner, (Family) Gracilariidae (one of several families)

Leaf roller weevil, Attelabos analis

Millipedes (Class) Diplopoda


Chapman’s oak, Quercus chapmanii

Myrtle oak, Quercus myrtifolia

Sand Live oak, Quercus geminata

Scrub oak, Quercus inopina

Turkey oak, Quercus laevis

Opossum, Didelphis marsupialis

Orange bracket fungi, Pycnoporus cinnabarinus

Palm weevil, Rhyncophora cruentata

Paper wasp, Polistes sp.

Pigeon-wings, Clitoria fragrans

Pillbug, (Order) Isopoda

Prickly pear cactus, Opuntia humifusa

Pygmy mole cricket, Neotridactylus archboldi

Raccoon, Procyon lotor

Sand pine, Pinus clausa

Saw palmetto, Serenoa repens

Scrub buckwheat, Eriogonum longifolium

Scrub firefly, Lucidota luteicollis

Scrub golden aster, Chrysopsis floridana

Scrub palmetto, Sabal etonia

Scrub pawpaw, Asimina obovata, four-petalled pawpaw, Asimina tetrapetalum


Blue-tailed mole skink, Eumeces egregius lividus

Sand skink, Neoseps reynoldsi


Diamondback rattlesnake, Crotalus adamanteus

Eastern indigo, Drymarchon corais couperi

Short-tailed snake, Stilosoma extenuatum

Southern flying squirrel, Glaucomys volans

Spider wasp, (Family) Pompilidae

Wedge-leaved button snakeroot, Eryngium cuneifolium

White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus

Velvet ant, (Family) Mutillidae



Deyrup, M. 1989. Arthropods endemic to Florida scrub. Fla. Sci. 52:254-270

Myers, R. L. and J. W. Ewel, Ed. 1990. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press, Orlando.
White, W.A. 1970. The geomorphology of the Florida peninsula. Fla. Bur. Geol. Bull 5111, 164 pp., 7 maps (Pp 11-123 cover the central Highlands.)

Sand: The Foundation of Florida Scrub

Deyrup, M. and T. Eisner. 1993. Last stand in the sand. Natural History 102 (12): 42-49.
Deyrup, M. and T. Eisner. 1996. Description and natural history of new pygmy mole cricket from relict xeric uplands of Florida (Orthoptera:Tridactylidae). Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Washington 17:59-67.

Johnson, A. and W. Abrahamson.1982. Quercus inopina: a species to be recognized from south-central Florida. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 109: 392-395.

Johnston, Gerald R. 1996 (Dissertation) Thermal ecology of the gopher tortoise (Gopheus polyphemus) in south-central Florida. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Miami.
Myers, R. L. and J. W. Ewel, Ed. 1990. Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press, Orlando.
Peterson, I. 1997. Dry sand, wet sand. Digging into the physics of sand piles and sand castles. Science News 152(12): 186-187.
Sand-Dwelling Animals


Bahls, P. and M. Deyrup. 1988. A habitual lurking predator of the Florida harvester ant. Pp. 547-55in Trager, J. C., ed. Advances in Myrmecology. E. J. Brill, New York. 551 pp.

Cain, M. 1987. Prey capture behavior and diel movement of Brachynemurus (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontida) antlion larvae in south central Florida. Florida Entomologist 70(3): 397-400.
Deyrup, M. and T. Eisner. 1993. Last stand in the sand. Natural History 102(12): 42-49.
Lucas, J. 1982. The biophysics of pit construction by antlion larvae (Myrmelion, Neuroptera). Animal Behavior 30(3): 651-664.
Lucas, J. and H. Brockmann. 1981. Predatory interactions between ants and antlions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae and Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae). Kansas Entomological Society 54(2): 228-232.
Topoff, H. 1977. The pit and the antlion. Natural History 86: 65-71.
Youthed, G. J. and V. C. Moran. 1969. The solar-day activity rhythm of Myrmeleontid larvae. Journal of Insect Physiology 15: 1103-1116.
Youthed, G. J. and V. C. Moran. 1969. Pit construction by Myrmeleontid larvae. J. of Insect Physiology 15: 867-875.

Levi, H. and L. Levi. 1968. A Guide to Spiders. A Golden Nature Guide, Golden Press, New York. Pgs. 82-85.

Marshall, S. 1994. Territorial aggregation in the burrowing wolf spider Geolycosa xera archboldi McCrone: formation, maintenance and consequences. A PhD Dissertation, Univ. Of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Wallace, H. 1942. A revision of the burrowing spiders of the Genus Geolycosa (Araneae, Lycosidae). The American Midland Naturalist 27: 1-62.

Crompton, J. 1954. Ways of the Ant. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Pg.121-134.

Feinsinger, P. and M. Minno. Handbook to Schoolyard Plants and Animals of North Central Florida. The Nongame Wildlife Program, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.
Hölldobler, B. and E.O. Wilson. 1994. Journey to the Ants. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Tschinkel, W. and A. Bhatkar. 1974. Oriented mound building in the ant, Trachymyrmex septentrionalis. Environmental Entomology 3: 667-673
Weber, N. 1956. Fungus-growing Ants and their fungi: Trachymyrmex septentrionalis. Ecology 37: 150-161.
Wilson, Edward O. 1971. The Insect Societies. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Life in the Leaf Litter Layer:


Bessette, A. and W. Sundberg. 1987. Mushrooms, A Quick Reference Guide to Mushrooms of North America. MacMillan Field Guides, Collier Books, New York.

Pacioni, G. 1981. Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Mushrooms. U.S. Ed. G. Lincoff. A Fireside Book, Simon and Schuster, New York.
McKnight, K. and V. McKnight. 1987. A Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America. The Peterson Field Guide Series, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.
Bonner, J.. 1993. Life Cycles, Reflections of an Evolutionary Biologist. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., pg. 56-59.

Plant-Animal Interactions


Abrahamson, W. G. 1995. Habitat distribution and competitive neighborhoods of two Florida palmettos. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 122: 1-14.

Maehr, D. S. and J. N. Layne. 1996. The saw palmetto, Florida’s all-purpose plant. The Palmetto 16: 6-10, 15, 21.
Tanner, G., J. J. Mullahey, and D. Maehr. Saw-palmetto: an ecologically and economically important native palm. IFAS Circular WEC-109. Found in University of Florida Range Science Program on the World Wide Web.(


acorns 136, 137, 140


animal 15, 26, 46-47, 85, 135

plant 85, 120, 122, 123, 124, 135

Advisory Council on Environmental

Education 2

air plant 17

ambushing predator 46, 47, 48

animal tracks

best time to find them 32

gait 34,43

gallopers 34

hopping birds 34

pacers 34

track pattern 34

track trail 34

ant lions

background information on 15, 48-50,


how to catch and care for 50

hunter trail 49-50

larvae 46, 48, 49

pit 48

pupae 48, 49, 50

anthills 66, 67, 68, 71-72

ants 47, 65-79, 112, 134, 147, 160

ant colony 67

role of queen 67

role of workers 67

communication 68, 72

cone ant 67, 160

fire ant 68-69, 160

fungus growing ant 67, 68, 160

harvester ant 65, 66, 160

mating 67

number of species in Florida 66

number of species in Florida scrub 66

ways of defending themselves and

their colonies 68

arachnophobia 58, 80

Archbold Biological Station 1, 3, 8, 106, 124, 157

armadillos 69, 160

arthropods 14, 43, 90, 102, 103, 112, 124

as decomposers 102

assessment techniques 6

references for 7

ball moss 17, 160

bees 124, 134

beetles 47, 89, 99, 102, 103, 105, 121, 122, 134, 137, 146, 160

behavioral mimicry 121

berlese funnel trap

how to make 106


defined 102, 116

of Florida scrub 102

of leaf litter 102

black bear 123, 124, 137, 146, 160

black line148

blue tortoise beetle 122, 124, 160

blue-tailed mole skink 12, 47, 160

bobcat 15, 32, 33, 160

bobwhite quail 123, 160

burn unit 147, 148


advantages of 14, 17

disadvantages of 18

calcium 87

camel cricket 15, 160

caterpillar 134, 137, 140, 147, 154, 160

centipede 112, 160

chapman’s oak 16, 135, 136, 161

cockroaches 104, 160

community 9

controlled burns 147

darkling beetle 99, 160

deer 33, 34, 38, 123, 124, 137, 161

digger wasp 15, 16, 137, 160

diurnal 14, 143

diversity 14, 86, 102, 134, 135, 136

drainage 9, 11, 14, 27, 28, 29-31

drip torch 148

drought index 147, 148

earthstar 91, 160

eastern gray squirrel 89, 137, 160

eastern indigo snake 15, 160

eastern towhee 86, 124, 160

ecological niche 53, 62, 80, 139

ecosystem9, 102, 116, 136

elytra 103

emerald moth 146, 160

endangered species 43,45, 86, 121

federal classification system 12

state classification system 12

exoskeleton 47, 49, 59, 80, 117

fetterbush 31

fire ants 68-69

fire-dependency 146

of scrub plants 12, 146, 150

flies 88, 89, 124

flat-footed fly 89, 99

frit fly 99

fungus gnat 99

humpbacked fly 99

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Commission 2, 11, 12, 150, 156

Florida mouse 11, 12, 15, 46, 89, 146, 147, 160

Florida rosemary 10,16, 31, 146, 160

Florida scrub

and fire 146, 147

and wildfire 146

defined 9, 10, 11

large areas of 10, 11

location of 10, 11

outstanding features of 9-12

threatened and endangered species 11

Florida scrub coloring book 8

Florida scrub lizard 12, 87, 160

Florida scrub millipede 86, 90, 112, 160

Florida scrub-jay 11,12, 122, 124, 137, 146, 149-150, 160

flying squirrel 88, 89

four-petalled pawpaw 121

fungi 88, 89

as decomposers 89
gall 135, 137, 140

gall wasp 137-140, 160

gopher frog 15, 89, 146, 147, 160

gopher tortoise14, 15, 17, 33, 123, 124, 146, 149, 160

gopher tortoise burrow 14, 15

other animals that use them 15, 46, 150

grasshopper sparrow 124

gray fox 33, 123, 124

gray squirrel 137
habitat 9, 102, 124

harvester ant 65-66, 160

Highlands scrub St.John’s wort 12, 31, 160
isopod 112
Lake Placid funnel wolf spider 15, 160

Lake Placid scrub mint121, 160

Lake Wales Ridge11, 12, 35, 47

leaf litter 85-86, 102, 103, 104

lightning 10, 146, 154

lizard 124, 125, 160

mammalogist 33, 43

microhabitat 60, 61, 80, 86, 102-104, 107, 116

mite 112

mold 96


as decomposers 88, 89, 90

background information 88

hyphae 88, 116

mycelium 88, 116

poisonous 88, 89, 91, 155

spores 88-89, 100-101

mutualism 91, 116, 143

myrtle oak 16, 135, 136, 161
nocturnal 14, 43, 48, 58, 80, 86, 116
oak trees 161

as food for insects 137

background information 16, 120, 136, 137

Ocala National Forest 11, 35

opossum 33, 123

orange bracket fungi 89, 161

ox beetle 102, 147, 160
painted ground cricket 103, 160

palm weevil 126, 161


background information 16, 120, 122, 123, 124

estimating age 124

how to construct a time line 127-128, 131-


saw palmetto 122, 123, 161

scrub palmetto 122, 161

panther 124, 160

parasitic wasp 49, 137

pawpaw 119, 127, 161

pigeon-wing 16, 161

pheromones 68, 80

pitfall trap 113

how to make 105

pleasing fungus beetle 89, 99, 160

pollination ecology 120, 121, 123

population dynamics 120, 143

predator 15, 46, 47, 48, 51, 53, 68, 80, 103, 120, 136, 143

prescribed burn 86, 147

prickly pear cactus 16, 161

pygmy mole cricket 15, 46, 146, 147, 160
rabbit, cottontail 32, 33


coastal 10

formation of 11, 16, 24, 25

inland 11

raccoon 15, 32, 33, 34, 123, 124, 161

red-tailed hawk 15

rosemary grasshopper 15

reptiles 133

runner oak 136


abrasiveness of 14, 47

compared to mud 16

features of 14-17, 18, 20, 23, 25,

opportunities and challenges for

sand-dwelling organisms 11, 14, 15,

16, 17, 26, 46, 47

permeability of 29, 30, 31, 47

sand grains 14, 16-17, 18, 20, 43, 45, 49,

sand live oak 16, 134, 136, 161

sand pine 146, 161

sand skink 12, 15, 17, 33, 35, 45, 47, 146, 161

saw palmetto

background information 122, 123, 161

saw palmetto adaptation review 124

saw palmetto plant-animal interaction

scat 33, 39, 43

scrub pawpaw 12, 121, 161

scrub buckwheat16, 146, 161

scrub burrowing wolf spider

aggregation of burrows 58-60

background information 58-60

bare sand loving 60

finding burrows 58-60

leaf litter loving 60

night viewing 58

scrub firefly 15, 161

scrub golden aster 12, 161

scrub lizard 146, 161

scrub lupine 146

scrub mints 12, 121,

scrub oak 16, 136, 137, 161

scrub palmetto

background information 122, 123

scrub plants

adaptations of 16, 146

adaptations to fire 10

scrub pygmy mole cricket 46, 160

scrub scarab beetle 15, 47, 160

scrub wedge-leaf button snakeroot 12, 13, 161

seasonal wetlands 28, 29, 31, 123

shiny lyonia 31

short-tailed snake 47

snail 87

snakes 33, 47, 124, 154

species richness

defined 102,116,

spider wasp 59, 120, 161


arachnophobia 58, 80

Lake Placid funnel wolf spider 15, 160

scrub burrowing wolf spider 58-60

springtail 112

spores 88, 89, 100-101, 116

squirrel tree frog 123, 124, 125

surface tension 16, 20, 21

termites 47, 112

turkey 123, 124

turkey oak 134, 136
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 12, 150, 156,
velvet ant 16, 154

vertebrate 15

vestigial 45, 80
wasps 124, 134, 137, 154

water purification 30

water recharge 30-31

West Central Florida Environmental

Education Regional Service Project 1, 4

western species 12, 14

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