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Wekiva Basin Ecology Field Course # 2: Fire Ecology

On October 15, the Friends of the Wekiva River hosted the second in a series of ecology field courses in the Wekiva Basin. The 25 participants in the six-part series convened at Wekiwa Springs State Park (WSSP) to discuss historical and current fire management in the longleaf pine/wire grass ecosystems that predominate the uplands within the park.

The course instructors included Jay Exum, who is leading the series, along with Paul Lammardo Park biologist at WSSP, Zach Prusak with The Nature Conservancy and Randy Mejeur with AECOM. Paul, Zach and Randy all provided expertise on the implementation and consequences of fire in longleaf pine ecosystems. WSSP provided a tram to traverse the field roads along our 6-mile study area.

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Wekiva Basin Ecology Field Course # 1: Wetland Hydrology and Breeding Frogs

The first installment of the Friends of the Wekiva River Ecology Field Course was held on August 19 th at Seminole State Forest (SSF). All 25 slots for the course were taken and there was a waiting list – we may have to schedule another nocturnal excursion into SSF later.

Based on a study of the breeding frogs in shallow, ephemeral marshes on SSF a couple of years earlier, I had already identified the areas that we visited on Saturday night. I had also done some recent reconnaissance to find the most convenient way to access a couple of the most productive marshes.

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Year-End Summary/Wekiva Basin Biological Calendar

What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? Year end summary. Year-End Summary/Wekiva Basin Biological Calendar

On a cool, sunny morning in late February, I realized that I had completed a full year of What’s Going On in The Woods articles. The realization came from undeniable cues that plants and animals had transitioned to spring. Read more

Hiking Pristine Ecosystems in Wekiwa Springs State Park and Seminole State Forest

Hiking pristine ecosystems in Wekiwa Springs State Park and Seminole State Forest

Just a few miles away from downtown Orlando, there are outdoor recreation opportunities that will take you into the middle of a Florida wilderness that looks like it did 500 years ago. Carefully planned within Wekiwa Springs State Park and Seminole State Forest are hiking trails that allow a long, inspirational immersion into relatively pristine habitats within the Wekiva River basin.

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Central Florida’s Version of Winter is Upon Us

What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? January, 2016 edition

Central Florida’s version of winter is upon us. Like the other seasons, there are plenty of signs that winter is here, but this winter is not necessarily evident in colder temperatures and low humidity with no precipitation. In fact, we have mostly experienced just the opposite during this winter.

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25th Annual Wekiva Christmas Bird Count, Saturday December 19th

What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? November, 2015 edition

25th Annual Wekiva Christmas Bird Count, Saturday December 19th – I’m going to devote the next two monthly articles to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). For this month, a little history and some encouragement for everyone interested in the natural environment in the Wekiva basin to participate in this year’s count. Next month, I will summarize some of the details of the Wekiva CBC – scheduled for Saturday December 19th.

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Yes, there is a fall season in Florida

What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? October, 2015 edition

Yes Irene, there is a fall season in Florida. Every year, my wife, Irene and I debate whether there is actually a fall season in Florida or whether it is mythical or a delusional state that I solely enjoy. Here in late October we are finally enjoying a break in temperature, and a slow-down in thundershowers and rainy afternoons that accompany summer weather patterns. However, for some people, cooling down to a daytime high of only 86° does not constitute a fall season. So, I have compiled a list of changes that are occurring that I hope will be a compelling argument for the wonderful nuances of fall in central Florida. For example:

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Summer rains and wetland hydrology

What’s going on in the Woods of the Wekiva? September, 2015 edition

Summer rains and wetland hydrology – Over the last 2 to 3 months we’ve had expected deluges from summer rains and weather patterns associated with tropical storms. One group of vertebrates that particularly “anticipates” the relatively regular rains of Florida summers are the Anurans – the taxonomic Order that includes frogs and toads. I’m fond of spending early evenings near marshes and swamps listening to the calls of various species of frogs and toads.

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A Bear-Wise Policy for Wingfield Reserve

The number of bears that reside in central Florida has likely increased dramatically over the last 15 years. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently commissioned a study to determine the population of bears across the state. They found that the central Florida population has increased to more than 1,200 bears, an increase of nearly 30 percent since 2002. In that same timeframe, the number of bears killed on roadways and the number of calls from homeowners about nuisance bears have increased precipitously.

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