Natural Plant Communities
The Range has an exceptionally rich and diverse flora, with many rare, threatened, and endangered plants. To date, botanists have cataloged more than 1,200 different plant species at APAFR. Approximately 47% of all the native plants known from central Florida have been documented at APAFR. This is in part due to the presence of relatively large areas of fairly intact, frequently burned natural vegetation. Field surveys have revealed numerous rare plants and have led to the discovery of several plants that have been described as “New to Science”. Ongoing surveys of these habitats consistently reveal new and interesting rare plants. Of the rare plants at APAFR, 13 are globally imperiled (known from fewer than 20 locations worldwide) and two are federally listed: pigeon-wings and wireweed. (Common names) Many others are currently under review for possible listing as federally protected plants.
The primary tool used to manage rare plant populations is to mimic a natural fire regime by applying prescribed lightning season fire to the landscape. Many of the rare plants at Avon Park Air Force Range exhibit a fire-stimulated flowering response. Our monitoring efforts include documenting rare plant locations by using Geographic Information Systems global positioning technology to record population sizes and locations. More recent management strategies include removal of woody encroachment in rare plant sites that were historically fire suppressed and removal of feral hogs from sensitive plant sites that are being altered by destructive hog rooting.