South Florida Terrestrial Ecosystems Lab
Southeast Environmental Research Center

Remote Sensing & Classification Projects

2007-Present — Biscayne Mapping: Established in 1980, Biscayne National Park (BNP) comprises an area of more than 180,000 acres, 95% of which is under water. The terrestrial component of BNP includes many Biscayne Bay islands and a narrow strip of mangrove-dominated wetlands along the mainland coast. While these terrestrial and wetland communities are limited in acreage, they extend over many miles, and encompass a very important share of the Park's biodiversity. Park planning will benefit greatly from a detailed map of the vegetation present on these lands; such a map has never previously been produced for BNP, and will establish a baseline of 2006 conditions. The objective of the Biscayne mapping project is to produce a detailed vegetation map of the current upland forests and wetland communities of Biscayne National Park. The map, when completed, will provide a spatial inventory of the plant communities within the Park's jurisdiction with a level of accuracy suitable for planning, implementing, and quantifying management decisions and restoration efforts for the next several decades.

2006-Present — Vegetation Classification: Systems for classifying south Florida vegetation have been proposed by more than a few acute botanical observers and ecologists (e.g., Harshberger 1914; Davis 1943; Craighead 1971; Jones et al. 1998). Despite the authority and long experience these classifications represent, they were arrived at subjectively and intuitively, and with little support in terms of quantitative field data. In practice, this has led to a few problems: instances of confusion in terminology, difficulty in application to detailed mapping efforts, and lack of fit within regional, national or global classification systems. The need to develop a data-driven classification that builds on the ecological organization recognized by generations of south Florida ecologists, but which fits seamlessly into the US National Vegetation Classification (NVC), has been recognized by the National Park Service and vegetation practitioners in the region. We are currently working in the planning stages of this project, which we propose to carry out during a relatively short period (ca twelve months). The planning phase involves two workshops, development of a geodatabase from a review of existing vegetation data, and a preliminary classification within a single important Everglades vegetation formation. The process will culminate in a streamlined proposal to accomplish the full regional classification work.