PS 4-49
Natural inventory and habitat classification of the beach-to-estuary ecotones and establishment of a long-term monitoring site for barrier island habitats and species in St. Johns County, Florida

Monday, August 10, 2015
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Jaclyn N. Selden, SEEDS Program Participant
Nichole Bishop, School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Brian J. Smith, Wildife Ecology & Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Ray Carthy, FL Coop Fish and Wildlife Unit, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

The 0.65-acre Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research property in St. John’s County Florida serves as nesting habitat for three species of sea turtle, all of which are federally listed as threatened or endangered. The north end extends from the beach to the estuary, traversing both State Road A1A and Old A1A Road. Limited knowledge about specifics of community structure in this area hamper efforts to monitor the impacts of anthropogenic and climatic perturbations.  Surveys were conducted to characterize the property and establish baseline data for long-term monitoring. These surveys classified the natural communities and flora present, and targeted specific faunal components. Belt transects were extended from the vegetation line on the foredune of the beach to the water line in the estuary, and the FNAI classification scheme was used to delineate the communities. Walking point-count surveys were conducted for two avian species of conservation concern (Wilson’s Plovers and Least Terns).


A total of 41 species of vascular plants in 25 families were identified on the Archie Carr property extending from the beach to the estuary. No exotic species were identified in undisturbed areas. Using the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) classification scheme, three natural communities were identified: beach dune, coastal strand, and mangrove swamp. No Wilson’s Plovers were seen on the beach or in the dunes. Least terns were spotted on several occasions. Observed activities were limited to fishing/diving and resting on beach. No nesting activities were observed. This project established the benchmarks and baseline data that will be used for long-term habitat monitoring and research on the Archie Carr property.