Community Ecology of Pine Rockland Plants
The pine rockland ecosystem of south Florida is one of the most critically imperiled ecosystems on earth. Pine rocklands remain on only 2% of their historic range due to habitat fragmentation, fire suppression, and invasive species. Conservation and restoration of the pine rockland ecosystem requires a multifaceted approach that considers not only habitat restoration, endangered species, and invasive species, but relationships between them. Our research focuses on understanding how fire suppression, invasive species, and fragmentation alter taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity of plant communities in remnant pine rockland fragments. We are currently working on two pine rockalnd projects: 1) Studying the interaction between pine rockland fragments and the agricultural landscape they are embedded in and 2) Exploring how pine rockland plant diversity has change over a 20 year time period on Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park. These research projects are a collaboration with Rae Crandall (UF, School of Forests, Fisheries, and Geomatics), Zach Brym (UF, Agroecology) and Jiangxiao Qui (UF, School of Forests, Fisheries, and Geomatics) and are currently funded by the UF/IFAS Dean of Research office and the US National Park Service.