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Monitoring Programs at GTM Research Reserve Quick Topics

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.

Striped newt survey

Surveying for striped newts

Porcelain crab

Porcelain crab (Petrolisthes armatus)

Monitoring Programs

  • 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 sp.) Population
    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 program.
  • 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 identify.
  • 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 nesting.
  • 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.
  • Shorebird
    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 international agencies.
  • 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 recovery.

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: Nikki.Dix@dep.state.fl.us.

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Last updated: December 06, 2013

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