Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory
Stable backdune areas give rise to scrub communities built upon sandy or well drained soils, with the predominant vegetation being herbaceous shrubs, evergreen oaks, or pines. Coastal scrub communities, commonly referred to as coastal strand, are becoming vanishing ecosystems due to developmental pressures in the coastal zone. Most of the coastal habitats from Cape Canaveral in Brevard County, to Miami in Dade County have been highly fragmented due to development. In Brevard County alone, it has been estimated that the natural scrub community was diminished by 69% during the period between 1943 - 1991 (Schmalzer 1995; Robinson and Smith 1996).
Scrub, except saw palmetto scrub, is a term often used to describe well-drained xeric habitats (Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick 1984). Scrub is generally characterized as open pineland with an oak or palmetto understory, that is well adapted to dry conditions. However, scrub habitats fall into a number of categories based on vegetation structure and composition: coastal scrub, oak scrub, sand pine scrub, rosemary scrub, slash pine scrub, and scrubby flatwoods. Each type of scrub is also characterized based on soil type, geography, and fire patterns in the area. Leaf fall is minimal in scrub areas, and ground cover is generally sparse due to shading effects from the overstory trees. Open patches of sand are often present in scrub lands, and where they occur, understory trees and woody shrubs benefit from the intense sunlight that reaches the ground.
Florida's scrub and pine flatwoods consist of similar shrub layers, with pine flatwoods differing by having an open canopy of slash pine (Pinus elliotii) intermingled with pond pine (P. serotina). Drier areas tend to be dominated by scrub oaks (Quercus myrtiflolia, Q. geminata, Q. chapmanii), while less well-drained areas are dominated by saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) (Schmalzer and Hinkle 1987, 1991, 1992; Breininger et al. 1988; Breininger and Schmalzer 1990). In many Indian River Lagoon sites, a mixed oak/palmetto shrub layer occurs.
While coastal scrub communities are impacted more by the strong winds and flooding brought on during storm events, most types of scrub are maintained primarily by fires. Low leaf fall, coupled with sparse ground vegetation insures that the risk of frequent fire is reduced. But, as sand pines mature, retaining branches and increasing in size, their crowns build up large fuel supplies for hot burning, fast moving fires. Fire, when it does occur, regenerates the scrub community and prevents its succession to an oak hammock or scrubby flatwoods community by dispersing pine seeds, recycling minerals back to the earth as ash, and diminishing the oak or palmetto understory.
Herbaceous scrub species, many of which are gap specialists, are vulnerable to competition and eventual competitive exclusion from scrub areas. These plants benefit from reduced competition in the burn zone following a fire. Some studies indicate that gap specialists may be more abundant in an area following fire, than they are when the area is fire-free for long periods. Frequent fires are more beneficial to oak scrub and scrubby flatwoods communities; while less frequent fires are more beneficial to sand pine scrub and other pine-dominated scrub types.
The scrub communities of east central Florida's barrier islands typically consists of coastal scrub, also called strand. Coastal scrub occurs immediately behind dune systems and is dominated primarily by saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and other common shrubs such as nakedwood (Myrcianthes fragrans), tough buckthorn (Bumelia tenax), rapanea (Rapanea punctata), hercules club (Zanthoxylum clava-hercules), bay (Persea borbonia), sea grapes (Coccoloba uvifera) and snowberry (Chiococca alba). Shrubby forms of live oak (Quercus virginana) are also common in coastal scrub communities. Indicator species for other types of scrub communities are: sand pine (Pinus clausa), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), scrub live oak (Q. geminata), Chapman's oak (Q. chapmanii), coastalplain goldenaster (Chrysopsis scabrella), and narrowleaf silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia).
A number of animals are found in scrub habitats, including some of Florida's most threatened and endangered species. Among them are the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), the eastern indigo snake (Masticophis flagellum flagellum ), the southeastern beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris), and the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). Many other animals also utilize scrub areas for feeding and for shelter.
Select a highlighted link below to learn more about that species:
|Species Name:||Common Name:||Habitat Notes:||Special Status:|
|Ampelopsis arborea||Pepper vine||Understory vine|
|Ardisia escallonoides||Marlberry||Coastal strand|
|Aristida stricta||Wiregrass||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Alternanthera flavescens||Yellow joyweed||Saw palmetto scrub inhabitant1|
|Andropogon glomeratus||Bushy bluestem||Saw palmetto scrub inhabitant1|
|Befaria racemosa||Tarflower||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Bursera simaruba||Gumbo limbo||Coastal strand|
|Caesalpinia bonduc||Nickerbean||woody shrub|
|Cakile lanceolata||Sea rocket||Coastal strand3|
|Callicarpa americana||Beautyberry||Woody shrub|
|Carya floridana||Scrub hickory||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Casuarina equisetifolia||Australian pine||Coastal strand|
|Ceratiola ericoides||Florida rosemary, sand heath||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Chamaesyce mesembryanthemifolia||Coastal beach sandmat||Coastal strand3|
|Chrysobalanus icaco||icaco coco plum||Oak scrub inhabitant1|
|Cissus sicyoides||Possum grape||Understory vine|
|Cissus trifoliata||Sorrelvine, marinevine||Coastal strand3|
|Cladonia spp.||Reindeer moss||Ground lichen|
|Cnidoscolus stimulosus||Finger rot||Coastal strand3|
|Coccoloba diversifolia||tietongue, pigeon plum||Coastal strand3|
|Coccoloba uvifera||Sea grapes||Shrub in saw palmetto scrub1|
|Dalbergia ecastophyllum||Coin vine||Open scrub|
|Echites umbellata||Devil's potato||Saw palmetto scrub inhabitant1|
|Encyclia tampensis||Butterfly orchid||Epiphyte of live oaks|
|Erythrina herbacea||Eastern coralbean, redcardinal||Saw palmetto scrub inhabitant1|
|Ficus aurea||Strangler fig||Coastal strand|
|Forestiera segregata var. segregata||Florida swamp privet||Coastal strand|
|Galactia regularis||Eastern milkpea||Scrub|
|Galactia volubilis||Downey milkpea||Scrub|
|Helianthus debilis||Beach sunflower||Coastal strand|
|Heliotropium currassavicum||Seaside heliotrope||Coastal strand|
|Heterotheca subaxillaris||Golden aster, camphorweed||Saw palmetto scrub inhabitant1|
|Ipomoea triloba||Littlebell||Coastal strand|
|Iva imbricata||Seacoast marshelder||Coastal strand|
|Laguncularia racemosa||White mangrove||Coastal Strand (St. Lucie)|
|Lantana camara||Lantana||Oak scrub1; open scrub3|
|Limonium carolinianum||Sea lavender||Coastal strand|
|Lyonia ferruginea||Rusty lyonia||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Lyonia fruticosa||Staggerbush, coastal plain staggerbush||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Lyonia lucida||Fetterbush||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Myrica cerifera||Wax myrtle||woody shrub|
|Myrcianthes fragrans||West Indian nakedwood||Palmetto and oak scrub4|
|Optunia stricta||Prickly pear cactus||Saw palmetto scrub inhabitant1|
|Osmanthus americana||Devilwood||Oak scrub inhabitant1|
|Palafoxia feayi||Feay's palafox||herbaceous scrub plant|
|Parthenocissus quinquefolia||Virginia creeper||Coastal strand|
|Persea borbonia||Red bay||coastal strand|
|Persea borbonia var. humilis||Silk bay||Scrub|
|Phlebodium aureum||Cabbage palm fern||Epiphyte of live oak|
|Pinus clausa||Sand pine||Scrub canopy|
|Pinus elliottii||Slash pine||Scrubby flatwoods canopy|
|Pinus elliottii var. densa||South Florida slash pine||Scrubby flatwoods canopy|
|Pinus palustris||long-leaf pine||Scrub, scrubby flatwoods|
|Pisonia aculeata||Devil's claw||Coastal strand|
|Pithecellobium keyensis||Blackbead||Open scrub|
|Pityopsis graminifolia||Narrowleaf silkgrass||Herbaceous scrub plant|
|Poinsettia cyathophora||Poinsettia, painted leaf||Protected coastal strand3|
|Polypodium polypodioides||Resurrection fern||Epiphyte of cabbage palms|
|Portulaca pilosa||Pink purselane||Protected coastal strand3|
|Psychotria nevosa||Wild coffee||Shrub|
|Physalis viscosa||Ground cherry||Coastal strand|
|Quercus chapmanii||Chapman oak||Scrubby pine flatwoods|
|Quercus geminata||Scrub live oak||Scrubby pine flatwoods|
|Quercus myrtifolia||Myrtle oak||Scrubby pine flatwds, impndmts|
|Quercus virginiana||Live oak||Shrub in oak scrub4|
|Randia aculeata||White indigoberry||Saw palmetto scrub inhabitant1|
|Rapanea punctata||Myrsine, rapanea, colicwood||Coastal strand|
|Rhizophora mangle||Red Mangrove||Coastal Strand - St. Lucie|
|Rivina humilis||Rougeplant||Coastal strand|
|Rumex hastatulus||Sorrell||Coastal strand|
|Sabal palmetto||Cabbage palm||Shrub in oak scrub1|
|Schinus terebinthifolius||Brazilian pepper||Oak scrub inhabitant1|
|Serenoa repens||Saw palmetto||Shrub3|
|Sesuvium portulacastrum||Sea purselane||Coastal strand|
|Sideroxylon tenax||Tough bumelia, tough bully||Oak scrub inhabitant1|
|Smilax sp.||Catbrier||Understory vine|
|Spartina patens||Beach cordgrass||Coastal strand- St. Lucie|
|Sporobolus junceus||pineywoods dropseed||Coastal strand|
|Tillandsia fasciculata||Cardinal air plant||Epiphyte of live oaks|
|Tillandsia recurvata||Ball moss||Epiphyte of live oaks|
|Tillandsia setacea||Quill wild pine||Epiphyte of live oaks|
|Tillandsia usneoides||Spanish moss||Epiphyte of live oaks|
|Tillandsia utriculata||green wild pine||Epiphyte of live oaks|
|Toxicocentron radicans||Eastern poison ivy||Coastal strand|
|Vaccinium myrsinites||Shiny blueberry||Oak-saw palmetto scrub2|
|Vitis aestivalis||Summer grape||Understory vine|
|Vitis rotundifolia||Muscadine grape||Understory vine|
|Vittaria lineatea||Shoestring fern||epiphyte of cabbage palms|
|Ximenia americana||Tallowwood, hogplum||Oak scrub inhabitant1|
|Yucca aloifolia||Spanish bayonet||Coastal strand|
|Zanthoxylum fagara||Wild lime||Protected coastal strand3|
|Aphelocoma coerulescens||Florida scrub jay||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Bufo quercicus||oak toad||Oak scrub and uplands|
|Cnemidophorus sexlineatus||Six lined racerunner||Scrub|
|Columbina passerina||Ground dove||Scrub|
|Dedroica coronata||Yellow-rumped warbler||Scrub|
|Drymarchon corais couperi||Eastern indigosnake||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Eumeces eqregius lividus||Blue-tailed mole skink||Scrub|
|Gopherus polyphemus||Gopher tortoise||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Lanius ludovicianus||Loggerhead shrike||Scrub|
|Masticophis flagellum flagellum||Eastern coachwhip snake||Scrub|
|Mus musculus||House mouse||Scrub|
|Neoseps reynoldsi||Sand skink||Scrub - rare|
|Neotoma floridana f.||Eastern wood rat||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Odocoileus virginianes||White-tailed deer||Scrub and uplands1|
|Oryzomys palustris natator||Rice rat||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Peromyscus gossypinus palmarius||Cotton mouse||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris||Southeastern beach mouse||Dune and scrub inhabitant (Canaveral to Sebastian Inlet)|
|Pipilo erythrophthalmus||Rufous-sided towhee||Scrub|
|Podomys floridanus||Florida mouse||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Rattus norvegicus||Norway rat||Scrub1|
|Rattus rattus||Black rat||Scrub1|
|Sceloporus woodi||Florida scrub lizard||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Sciurus carolinensis||Gray squirrel||Scrub1|
|Sigmodon hispidus littoralis||Hispid cotton rat||Dune and scrub inhabitant (Canaveral to Sebastian Inlet)|
|Spilogale putorius ambarvalis||Spotted skunk||Scrub|
|Sus scrofa||Wild boar||Scrub1|
|Sylvilagus floridanus f.||Eastern cottontail rabbit||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
|Sylvilagus palustris paludicola||Marsh rabbit||Dune and scrub inhabitant1|
1 Found throughout the IRL
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