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Site Description for Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Quick Topics

Physical Features

The Apalachicola River is the only river in Florida which has its origins in the Piedmont and Southern Appalachians. Upstream rainfall has a much greater influence on river flows than Florida rainfall because the majority of the ACF basin is in Georgia and Alabama. However, flows in the lower river can be substantially increased by Florida rainfall during periods of low flow because of inflow from the Chipola River, a spring fed river and the Apalachicola's major tributary.

Stream modifications such as dams and maintenance dredging have altered the historic flow regimes and stage height of most of the river south of the Jim Woodruff Dam. Both practices have resulted in an increase in flow rate and decrease in river height. These factors have contributed to the lowering of water in the main channel of the river. Reduced river height translates to reduced inundation into backwater swamp areas. These waters are important habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates.

The Cape St. George Lighthouse, restored and moved to its new home

Archaeological Resources

The Apalachicola River and Bay Drainage Basin has more than 1000 archaeological sites and numerous historic sites. There are ten sites on lands directly managed by Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, including the Cape St. George lighthouse.

Beach dune with sea oats Beach dune with sea oats

Natural Communities

There are 24 major FNAI natural communities on FCO-managed lands within ANERR, including a variety of forests, swamps, marshes, as well as seagrass beds and mollusk reefs.

Monarch butterfly Monarch butterfly

Native Species

The diverse natural communities found within ANERR support more than 1300 species of plants, 40 species of amphibians, 80 species of reptiles, 50 species of mammals, 270 species of fish and 300 species of birds.


Manatees Manatees

Listed Species

One hundred nine plant and fifty-four animal species inhabiting search ANERR have been listed as either endangered, threatened or of special concern by the federal or state government. These include well-known species such as the American alligator, Florida manatee, bald eagle and loggerhead sea turtle as well as lesser-known species such as the purple bankclimber mussel and gopher frog.

Chinese tallow Chinese tallow being treated

Invasive and Problem Species

Invasive species are those wild or feral plants or animals that are not native to Florida, but were introduced as a result of human-related activities and have become a threat to natural communities. Invasive, non-native plant and animal species are present within the bounds of ANERR, but none are currently a major threat to existing resources. The most common plant species in this category include Chinese tallow, camphor tree, giant cane, Japanese climbing fern and giant reed.

Apalachicola Research Reserve

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About Apalachicola NERR



Last updated: December 09, 2016

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
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