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A comprehensive, broadly accepted vegetation classification is important for ecosystem management, particularly for planning and monitoring. South Florida vegetation classification systems that are currently in use were largely arrived at subjectively and intuitively with the involvement of experienced botanical observers and ecologists, but with little support in terms of quantitative field data. The need to develop a field data-driven classification of South Florida vegetation that builds on the ecological organization has been recognized by the National Park Service and vegetation practitioners in the region. The present work, funded by the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program - South Florida/Caribbean Network (SFCN), covers the first stage of a larger project whose goal is to apply extant vegetation data to test, and revise as necessary, an existing, widely used classification (Rutchey et al. 2006). The objectives of the first phase of the project were (1) to identify useful existing datasets, (2) to collect these data and compile them into a geodatabase, (3) to conduct an initial classification analysis of marsh sites, and (4) to design a strategy for augmenting existing information from poorly represented landscapes in order to develop a more comprehensive south Florida classification.


A report from the South Florida Terrestrial Ecosystems Lab (SOFTEL).