Monthly Archives: May 2018

Refuge Archeology 2 | Discovering the Spring Creek Village

Earlier this month, we delved into archeological mysteries on the Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge.  Today, we return to the Spring Creek section of the Refuge with the same archeologists as they predict the location of a village over a thousand years gone.

Subscribe to the WFSU Ecology Blog to receive more videos and articles about our local, natural areas.

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU Public Media

There are no ancient stone temples in the St. Marks Refuge.  It would be easier for archeologists if there were.  But the people who lived here for thousands of years lived in wooden homes that long ago turned to dirt. Continue reading

The Underground Lives of Ants in a North Florida Forest

Dr. Walter Tschinkel has developed a novel way to explore ant nests.  We travel with him to the Apalachicola National Forest for a brand of research that creates works of art, in collaboration with the ants themselves.  You can see an exhibit of this art at the Tallahassee Museum through June 10, 2018.

Subscribe to the WFSU Ecology Blog to receive more videos and articles about our local, natural areas.

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU Public Media

I think all of us at some time have stepped on a mound of dirt, uncovering scores of scurrying ants.  Immediately, we brush them off our feet before they can bite us.  When we see lines of ants crossing grass, we chose a different spot in the park to have our snack.  And we’re definitely unhappy to see them in our house.  When we see ants in our world, they’re pests. Continue reading

Rebecca Means holds a gopher frog in her hand. It has contracted into a defensive posture, front feet in front of its face.

Its Wetlands are Dry, But There’s Plenty to See in the Munson Sandhills

Ephemeral wetlands in the Munson Sandhills are currently dry.  But this region of the Apalachicola National Forest has plenty to see, including rare and threatened animal species.

Subscribe to the WFSU Ecology Blog to receive more videos and articles about our local, natural areas.

The frosted elfin is a rare butterfly whose strongest concentration in the Southeast is within the Apalachicola National Forest. Photo courtesy Dean and Sally Jue.

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU Public Media

Today, we’re taking the kids out to ephemeral wetlands in the Apalachicola National Forest.  Our purpose?  To show them that right now, the wetlands aren’t so wet.

It sounds like a crazy reason to drag kids out to the forest on a Sunday morning.  Last year, we adopted two wetlands with two other families, my son Max’s first grade classmates.   So they’ve already started learning about this environment and formed positive memories after spending time here with their friends.

We’re here today because there’s a tremendous value in visiting the same spot in nature over time, through different seasons and climate cycles.  Nature isn’t static.  Individual plants and animals change through the seasons.  The wetland itself changes over the course of wet and dry years.  Being here is the best way for kids (and adults) to get in tune with the workings of any wild space.

And even in its current dry state, we still have the opportunity to see some things.  In particular, Max, his friend Dylan, and little brother Xavi might get to see the gopher frog, a species of concern.

Continue reading

Weeden Island burial ceramic- recreation.

Byrd Hammock | Archeological Mysteries on the St. Marks Refuge

Byrd Hammock is an archeological site on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla Beach Unit.  Here, archeologists with the Southeast Archeological Center (part of the National Park Service) are trying to solve a mystery…

Subscribe to the WFSU Ecology Blog to receive more videos and articles about our local, natural areas.

Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU Public Media

How do you begin to know a person who died over a thousand years ago, and left behind no writing?  People lived in north Florida for at least 14,000 years before Hernando de Soto occupied Anhaica in 1539-40.  Through the Spanish, we know that the people who lived here then called themselves the Apalachee.  We know about their daily lives and religious beliefs, albeit through the biased lens of European witnesses.  But at least those clergymen and soldiers lived among and talked to the Apalachee.

There’s no such chronicle for the previous 14,000+ years of life in the panhandle.

Continue reading