Pine Rocklands /Connect-to-Protect

Nature Preserve Tour

Pine Rocklands /Connect-to-Protect

Miami, Florida 33135, United States

Created By: Florida International University


The Pine Rocklands is a globally imperiled plant community native to South Florida. It is known for its open canopy dominated by the Miami-Dade County Slash Pine and a rich herbaceous understory of tropical and temperate shrubs. Exposed limestone provides an elevated base for this ecosystem to grow on. The climate here is also notably drier than hardwood hammocks. As a result, fires frequently ravage this ecosystem about every 3-10 years. This is a perfectly normal occurrence, as fire is a natural component of this habitat’s cycle of life. Mature slash pine cones can be serotinous, meaning they will not open until they are exposed to the extreme heat of a fire. Fires also help eliminate invasive plants and inhibit the growth of succession species that would otherwise shade out the Pine Rockland species. Without fires, this ecosystem would eventually transition into a Tropical Hardwood Hammock.

This ecosystem is home to several endemic species, which can only be found here. Some plants that make up the understory are Sawgrass, Saw Palmetto, Tetrazygia, Cabbage Palm (state tree), Beautyberry, Tickseed (state wildflower), Firebush, and Jack in the Bush. Some of the wildlife includes the Zebra Longwing Butterfly (state butterfly), Atala Butterfly, Blind Snake, White Indigo Snake, and hawks.

In March of 2016, the Nature Preserve had its first prescribed burn. A prescribed burn is when fire professionals who are fully trained and certified in performing prescribed burns, are granted special permission to set a controlled fire in fire-dependent ecosystems, such as the Pine Rocklands. It is recommended that prescribed fires be administered every 3-7 years to maintain the community structure and prevent its succession into a Rockland Hammock.

The FIU Nature Preserve is part of Fairchild's Connect to Protect Network through which Miami residents are able to plant native plants in order to connect the few remaining isolated fragments of Pine Rockland. Planted areas in the network include private yards, rights-of-way, and public lands such as schools or community parks. Planting native Pine Rockland plants increase the probability that bees, butterflies, and birds can find and transport seeds and pollen through the developed areas separating Pine Rockland fragments. These planted areas can function as a corridor, improving gene flow and the genetic health of native plant species.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Nature Preserve Tour


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