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

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!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Florida Nature Almanac: An Anadromous Migration

Illustration by Duane Raver.

In February, Alabama Shad (Alosa alabamae) began their migration of over 100 miles, from the Gulf of Mexico up the Apalachicola River to the Chattahoochee area, where they will spawn.  Shad are an anadromous species.  This means that, like northern salmon, spawning occurs in freshwater rivers but adults spend most of their lives in the salt waters of the Gulf.

FNAI scientists monitor research on the status and trends in the Florida population.  Historically, shad spawned in rivers across the northern Gulf Coast from the Mississippi to the Suwannee and were abundant enough to support a commercial fishery for them in Apalachicola.  In recent years, spawning in Florida has been limited to the Apalachicola River system.  The Florida population is ranked S2, meaning that shad are rare and vulnerable to extinction in the state.  Scientists believe declines in shad abundance are mainly due to dams which block the upstream migration of spawning fish.  
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists capture, tag, and release adult Alabama Shad to monitor movement and aid in the development of accurate population estimates.  Once a portion of the shad population is tagged and released, biologists can later catch more fish and use the percentage of fish that are caught with tags to estimate the size of the entire shad population.  Photo by Rick Long, FWC.

The Nature Conservancy has a great post on efforts to operate the Jim Woodruff dam on the Apalachicola River in a way that should help to increase spawning success:  Conservation Locking at Jim Woodruff Dam.