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Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Sand Pine Scrub

Sand pine scrub is one of the oldest ecosystem types in Florida. In ancient times - when sea levels rose and inundated much of what is now Florida - these upland habitats were isolated by water - forming desert-like hilltop islands. During this period of isolation, many species of plants and animals developed unique adaptations to the harsh, dry environment of the scrub lands.

These rare and unusual species - called endemics - are found nowhere else in the world. Currently, from 40 to 60 percent of the plants and animals in scrub lands are endemic species, and some are so rare they are considered to be threatened or endangered. These resilient, persistent habitats are restricted mainly to Florida.

Because scrub land is generally high and dry, it is well suited for homes or agricultural uses. These prime lands have been developed faster than any other ecosystem type in the state. More than two-thirds of the original scrub land in Florida has already disappeared. Only disconnected patches of scrub remain. As a result of this rapid development, scrub habitat is considered to be the most endangered of the major ecosystem types in Florida.

Scrub ecosystems are a valuable natural resource, not only because they are an important habitat for wildlife, but because they act as recharge areas for the water table. Sand pine scrub land also providesa small amount of timber for pulp and paper-making.

  • For the Contest

    Each year the contest takes on two ecosystems on a four-year rotation. At this station, when sand pine scrub is one of the featured ecosystems:

    • Juniors and Intermediates will answer multiple choice/true false questions about each ecosystem.
      • To prepare, Juniors should read the ecosystem story; Intermediates should read the ecosystem description*. 
    • Intermediates will be asked multiple choice/true false questions that reference identifying characteristics of the four representative plant species for sand pine scrub:

    1) Chapman oak
    2) sand live oak
    3) sand pine
    4) myrtle oak

    Story for Juniors - The Great Turtle Adventure 

    Sand Pine Scrub Description