Plant Ecology


Archbold Biological Station’s Plant Ecology Program conducts basic and applied research that focuses on four areas:

  1. Plant population biology, plant demography, and population viability
  2. Conservation biology and management of plants and plant communities
  3. Fire ecology and management
  4. Restoration ecology and reintroductions

Our main focus is on plants of Florida scrub and related ecosystems. We largely work on the Lake Wales Ridge in south-central Florida. Our research includes long-term data collection, field and laboratory experiments, and population modeling.Our long-term datasets provide opportunities for fruitful collaborations with ecological modelers. We also work with local and national agencies to translate our research results to effective conservation and management.

Our lab has an active post-baccalaureate intern program. Interns are usually recently graduated undergraduates who desire research experience before entering graduate school. An internship offers an opportunity to conduct a substantial, independent research project (including picking and designing a project, collecting and analyzing data, and summarizing the results orally and in written form). Interns also assist in lab projects and gain experience in myriad ecological, statistical, and modeling techniques. We also advise graduate students conducting research at Archbold or elsewhere while obtaining degrees from universities across the country and globe. Our interns and graduate students have continued on to be successful and productive ecological researchers and conservation biologists.

The Plant Ecology Program poses on the back veranda in August 2016. Standing: Stephanie Koontz (research assistant), Eric Menges (program director), Lauren Maynard (intern), Brian Josey (research assistant). Seated: Stacy Smith (research assistant), Katie Burns (intern), Louise Barton (intern), Tabitha Petri (intern). Reclining: Kathryn Tisshaw (intern).
Plant Ecology Program lab members April 2016. Top row, left-right Brian Josey (research assistant), Evan Craine (research intern), Eric Menges (program director), Louise Barton (research intern). Bottom row, left-right Katie Burns (research intern), Stephanie Koontz (research assistant), Kathryn Tisshaw (research intern), Olivia Karas (research intern), Stacy Smith (research assistant, holding the “Mighty” Quinn).
Plant Ecology Program in front of the new Lodge and Learning Center, October 2011. Top row, L-R, Sarah Haller (research assistant), Eric Menges (program director), Cari Ficken (research intern), Carl Weekley (research assistant), Justin Dee (research intern). Bottom row, L-R, Steven McAllister (research assistant), Stacy Smith (research assistant), Anna Peschel (research intern), Cailin Kellman (research intern).
The endangered perennial herb Liatris ohlingerae is one of 15 species we study in long-term demographic research.
Ziziphus celata is a critically endangered shrub that we are introducing to suitable sites throughout its range
Pedro Quintana-Ascencio collaborates with the Plant Ecology Program on a range of ecological modeling projects, including an ongoing project building landscape-level demographic models with a variety of ecological drivers.
Florida scrub dominated by Ceratiola ericoides supports many endemic plants and provides numerous research sites for the Plant Ecology Lab
Researchers and interns from the Plant Ecology Lab participate in planning, conducting, and studying prescribed fire