Babcock Ranch Preserve is home to more than 67,000 acres of Florida’s flora and fauna. The preserve is the habitat for important wetlands that help maintain the Everglades ecosystem’s health. It also houses 13 species that are documented as endangered, threatened, or of special concern.
The two most prominent ecosystems at Babcock Ranch are Cypress Swaps and Pine Flatwoods. They are home to a variety of species native to Florida.
Here, we will give you an overview of each ecosystem and their characteristics so you can identify them when you visit Babcock Ranch.
Swaps take about 10% of the land in Florida. These wetlands are mainly populated by Bald Cypress and Pond Cypress. Their water level drastically changes during the rainy summertime and the dry winter season, which is necessary for the Cypress to grow as they need a dry period to germination and overall seed survival.
This ecosystem is essential to filter out excess nutrients and toxic pollutants in the water. The Cypress trees can filter out phosphorus and nitrogen from treated wastewater. The wetlands also hold excess floodwater protecting surrounding communities during heavy rains and hurricane season.
Cypress swaps are the habitat for various wildlife, an example is the American Alligator which is an essential species for the ecosystem’s survival. Other animals you can see living in this ecosystem are you are river otter, wood stork, and several singsong birds.
Pine Flatwoods represent about 50% of the land in Florida. It is the biggest ecosystem in the sunshine state. It is the habitat for Southern Slash Pine, Saw Palmetto, Sabal Palm, and a mixture of grasses.
As the name implies, Pine Flatwoods are typically flat lands with sandy soils that depend on fires to replenish nutrients and keep the ecosystem healthy. If the fire is often contained, other species such as oaks and palmettos will dominate and drive out the pine trees turning the ecosystem into a hardwood hammock.
During the rainy season, many non-aquatic animals shelter here since it is not as flooded as it is in other ecosystems. Some of the species you can find here are Florida panthers, black bears, and fox squirrels. You also find birds such as woodpeckers, bald eagles, and red-shouldered hawks.
Come Explore Babcock Ranch Ecosystems
Babcock Ranch Eco Tours lets you experience these two ecosystems firsthand. We have different tours you can choose, all giving you a great view of the Florida wildlife. Our most popular tour is through the swamp where you will see alligators and other swamp species.