Images of the Archbold Biological Station

dawn in the scrub
dawn in the scrub

I spent last week in central Florida at the Archbold Biological Station.

Archbold preserves 5,000 hectares of Florida sand scrub, some of the last remaining patches of an ecosystem now largely lost to agriculture and strip malls.  The sand scrub is an odd place, a fossil beach from when sea levels were high enough to restrict peninsular Florida to a narrow sandbar.  Water runs right through the coarse sand, leaving the scrub looking much like a desert in spite of regular afternoon rains.  Cacti thrive.  It is a paradoxical place.

The scrub is also remarkable for receiving more lightning strikes than anywhere else on the continent: about 50 strikes per square mile per year.  So the scrub burns all the time, and has come to depend on frequent fire to maintain the structure of the forest.  This unique system has birthed dozens of sand- and fire-adapted plant and animal species that are found nowhere else.

The trip was a spur of the moment decision for me.  Budding myrmecologist Fred Larabee, a student here at the University of Illinois studying the evolutionary ecology of Odontomachus trap-jaw ants, was driving down to collect Archbold’s three resident species.  I hitched a ride.

Below are a few photos from the week.

Approaching storm
approaching storm in the late afternoon
Lightning strike in the late afternoon.  (Click for larger version)
lightning strike! (Click for larger version)
stairway on the water tower
stairway on the water tower
palmetto
palmetto
water
raindrops
prickly pear cactus with scale insects
prickly pear cactus with scale insects
A chelinidia cactus bug, covered in morning dew
Chelinidea cactus bug, covered in morning dew
morning is the best time to photograph spider webs
morning is the best time to photograph spider webs
more webs in the scrub
more webs in the scrub
our lovely cottage
Our lovely cottage. Incidentally, it is also the cottage where legendary chemical ecologist Tom Eisner used to spend his summers doing research. Were we worthy of the place?
A devil's rider walking stick (Anisomorpha buprestoides)
a devil's rider walking stick (Anisomorpha buprestoides), one of Eisner's classic subjects
spanish moss- really a bromeliad- trails off an oak tree
spanish moss- really a bromeliad- trails off a dead oak tree
converse- the ideal field shoe for the sandy scrub
converse- the ideal field shoe for the sandy scrub
racoon tracks
raccoon tracks
myrmecologist Fred Larabee monitors the activity of a trap-jaw ant nest.  Note the ideal field shoes...
Fred Larabee monitors the activity of a trap-jaw ant colony. With the ideal field shoes, of course
nest of the cone ant, Dorymyrmex bureni
nest of the cone ant, Dorymyrmex bureni
sand wolf spider captures an ant male
sand wolf spider captures an ant male

Of course, I also photographed a great many ants.  Those will be posted shortly.

6 thoughts on “Images of the Archbold Biological Station”

  1. Thanks for article and the great photographs. I always appreciate those posts that follow scientific ‘expeditions’ to different eco-systems and feature macro-photography. Living vicariously, I guess!

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