|Monitoring Programs at GTM Research Reserve
Monitoring is an essential part of ecosystem science and management programs. It helps provide baseline data to
identify new threats and to assess the effectiveness of management programs. GTM Research Reserve hosts and
participates in dozens of monitoring programs.
Surveying for striped newts
Porcelain crab (Petrolisthes armatus)
- Water Quality
GTM Research Reserve participates in the System-wide
Monitoring Program (SWMP).
- Coastal Strand Transect
This program uses vegetation surveys to monitor changes in
species occurrence, dominance and composition through time
for coastal strand, the storm deposited ridges of sand,
shell and debris behind the dune ridge.
- Vegetation Plot
This program is designed to provide quantitative data to
monitor the effects of the prescribed fire program through
the analysis of species composition, percent cover and
average height of shrub and tree species.
- Dune Transect
This program monitors changes of species occurrence,
dominance and composition over time for the dune vegetation
between the Atlantic Ocean and US Highway A1A.
- Prickly Pear (Opuntia
Staff are monitoring the population of prickly pear cactus and assessing the impacts of the exotic invasive
cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum).
- Laurel Wilt
Laurel wilt is a deadly disease of redbay (Persea
borbonia) and other tree species in the laurel family (Lauraceae).
The disease is caused by a fungus that is introduced by a
non-native insect. Staff are monitoring the rate of spread
of the disease and assessing the impacts on the ecosystem if
the species disappears.
- Prescribed Burning Photo-point
Permanent photo-points have been established at each of the
burn units to monitor the progress of the prescribed fire
- Butterfly Biodiversity Census
Reserve volunteers undertake the annual butterfly
biodiversity census in conjunction with the Florida
Butterfly Monitoring Network. Butterflies are excellent
indicators of biodiversity and most are relatively easy to
- Exotic Crab
The GTM estuary has been invaded by at least two exotic crab species, including the Indo-Pacific swimming
crab (Charybdis hellerii) and the porcelain crab (Petrolisthes armatus). Crabs are collected
in habitat trays to help track and predict the direction and likelihood of range expansion by those species
as well as monitoring the abundance and diversity of native crabs before, during, and after the invasion.
- Invasive Mussel and Barnacle
Two other invasive species, the green mussel (Perna
viridis) and a large acorn barnacle (Megabalanus sp.)
are mapped and monitored. The study of green mussel
distribution is complemented by research at the University
of North Florida.
- American Eel (Anquilla rostrata)
FWC and University of Florida personnel conduct routine
monitoring of glass eels at Guana Dam from January to March.
- Sea Turtle
GTM Research Reserve has lead responsibility for daily
monitoring of 5.2 miles of Atlantic beach for sea turtle
- Gopher Tortoise Population Survey
GTM Research Reserve has established a biennial gopher
tortoise survey program to assess the current population
status of the tortoise within the Guana peninsula.
- Striped Newt Survey
The striped newt survey is an annual survey conducted by
volunteers during April in a number of pond sites within
Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve.
- Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucacephalus)
The goals of the monitoring program are to encourage public interest in the conservation of bald eagles,
documentation of eagle nest locations to avoid disrupting nesting and collection of data on mated pairs and
their nest success each year. Monitoring by volunteers begins in October and continues until eaglets are
completely fledged, as late as May.
- Least Tern Nesting Survey
A Reserve volunteer conducts weekly surveys throughout the nesting season (weather permitting) from
April to August. The surveys are conducted in conjunction with the shorebird surveys discussed below.
Regular shorebird surveys began at the Reserve in 2006 and are conducted weekly throughout the year. All
species and numbers are recorded. Unusual birds are photographed and identified later. Beginning in 2007,
data is also collected for the International Shorebird Survey which provides data to national and
- Marsh Birds
The monitoring of both short-term variation and long-term trends in marsh bird populations is being
accomplished with volunteers following the protocol outlined in the Standardized North American Marsh Bird
Monitoring Program. This standardized monitoring protocol uses broadcast calls to elicit vocalizations.
- St. Johns Audubon Fall Migration Peregrine Falcon Count
The goal of the Audubon monitoring effort is to document the population trends of fall migrating peregrine
falcons and merlins. Audubon Society volunteers have been counting peregrines, merlins and kestrels during
the fall migration period extending from September 27 – October 12th, since 1997.
- Anastasia Island Beach Mouse
Monitoring of the Anastasia Island beach mouse is intended to ascertain the population viability and
More detailed information on each of these programs is
available in the
GTM Research Reserve Site Profile
(pdf - 4.46 MB). All research-related inquiries at GTM
Research Reserve should be directed to the Research
Coordinator, Nikki Dix, at:
Get Involved / Visit Us
December 06, 2013
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
850-245-2094 (phone) / 850-245-2110 (fax)
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