Upland Pine, Blackwater River State Forest. Photo by Gary Knight

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Update from the Field: Rare Plant Monitoring

FNAI botanists are working with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week to monitor populations of the federally-threatened Florida Skullcap (Scutellaria floridana) in the Apalachicola National Forest. The permanent plots will be monitored before and after restoration activities.  In addition to Florida skullcap density, species composition and cover in all forest strata (canopy, midstory, groundcover) are being recorded.

All photos by Amy Jenkins

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Noteworthy Discoveries: Jingle Bell Orchid in Hendry County

Jingle bell Orchid                                            Photo by Michelle Smith

During recent field surveys to document rare plants at
Spirit of the Wild Wildlife Management Area, FNAI botanists located several thriving populations of the jingle bell orchid, (Harrisella porrecta, syn. Dendrophylax porretcus) in a strand swamp growing on branches of the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). The fruits of this tiny leafless orchid are a well-named characteristic, as they do look just like little bells. According to the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, jingle bell orchid has never been collected in Hendry County, so FNAI scientists were excited to discover these populations.

               Photo by Michelle Smith

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gary Knight Retires as FNAI Director

Please join our staff in extending warm wishes to Gary Knight, who retired from FNAI last month.  Gary joined FNAI in 1990 as staff botanist, and served as Director from 1995 to the present.  Under Gary’s steady leadership, FNAI has continued to grow and thrive as one of the premier heritage programs in the NatureServe international heritage network.  Gary forged strong partnerships with key state and federal agencies and NGOs, and expanded FNAI’s role in several important conservation efforts around the state, including scientific evaluation of Florida Forever land acquisition proposals, mapping and monitoring of 2.6 million acres of natural communities on conservation lands, and creation of an invasive species database for Florida.  During Gary’s tenure FNAI scientists have added or updated approximately 21,000 documented occurrences of rare species and natural communities to our element occurrence database, for a current total of more than 35,500 occurrences across the state.  Gary was the driving force behind three major FNAI publications:  field guides to the rare plants and animals of Florida, and the Atlas of Florida’s Natural Heritage.  Through it all Gary fostered a supportive, team-oriented, and fun work environment for the many staff who have been part of FNAI over the past twenty years.  We will miss his leadership but wish him the best in a well-deserved retirement.

Gary will be succeeded as FNAI Director by Dan Hipes.  Dan started work with the Florida Natural Areas Inventory in 1993 as a field biologist.  He was promoted to Senior Zoologist in 1995 and has served as the Chief Scientist and primary assistant to Gary since 2001.  Dan’s experience provides for a seamless transition and continued growth in FNAI’s partnerships and influence in Florida conservation.

Silene polypetala.  Photo by Gary Knight.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Update from the Field: Gearing Up for Another Busy Fall Field Season!

FNAI staff are in the field year-round, but fall and spring are especially busy times.  That looks to be especially true this year, with FNAI biologists working in at least 27 different sites across 24 counties over the next few months!

This fall's fieldwork includes ecological sampling to inform land management, natural community mapping to reflect restoration efforts, rare plant surveys and monitoring, invasive plants surveys, and surveys for reptiles and amphibians.  

Our partners for these projects include the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Forest Service, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and The Nature Conservancy, among others.

FNAI has recently hired three skilled field biologists to support these efforts.  Data from these projects informs the efforts of conservation land managers around the state, and helps build our Element Occurrence database of rare plants, animals, and natural communities.

When it comes to science to inform conservation, FNAI has the state of Florida covered!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Online Form Available to Submit Rare Species Observations to FNAI

This week FNAI finalized a new online data submission form (accessible from any device here) that allows users to submit their observations of rare plants and animals that FNAI tracks.  Observations will be reviewed by FNAI scientists and then imported into our Biotics database of rare species occurrences (what we call element occurrences or EOs) where they will be made available to natural resource managers to support conservation efforts.  Your data may be used to create a new EO record or it may be included as an update of an existing record if the species has already been documented in the vicinity. 

Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). Photo by Dan Hipes.
FNAI’s element occurrence data set (FLEO) serves as the best single source of rare species occurrence locations in the Florida and is used to inform the work of resource managers, non-profits, planners, and consultants statewide.  Ensuring that your observations are incorporated into FLEO is the best step you can take to make sure that they are used to support conservation. You can find the form by following the “Submit Data” link on our website, or by just clicking here.  If you have any question comments or suggestions get in touch with Frank Price, FNAI data manager.

If you have more than a dozen or so observations to submit you’ll also want to contact Frank, and he can work with you to get you data incorporated into our database as efficiently as possible.   For incidental observations, or small data sets, the new form should work great! 

On a mobile device the form will look like this. Just fill it out and Submit Entry!