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KUCHLER TYPE: Cypress savanna
FORESTRY VALUES : Most old-growth cypress swamps (and other swamps) in Florida were logged by 1950. The most valuable product was the old-growth baldcypress which contained large volumes of very durable hardwood. Current logging is in second-growth, relatively young cypress, which is less durable. It is primarily used for chipping; until recently cypress was primarily used for specialty items such as crab traps and ladders. [17,33]. RANGE VALUES : WILDLIFE VALUES : Cypress swamps provide food, nesting sites, hibernation sites, and cover for a variety of species. Rare and endangered birds and mammals are more likely to be found in cypress swamps and mixed hardwood swamps than in other kinds of swamps. Cypress swamps are amoung the few areas not colonized by humans in southern Florida [17]. In Big Cypress Swamp, 6 of 19 bird species listed as rare, endangered, or threatened use cypress swamps for breeding and feeding [8]. Cypress swamps commonly contain rookeries of wood storks (Mycteria americana), herons (nine species and subspecies), and double-crested cormorants [17]. The wood stork is dependent on Florida wetlands. It nests in cypress stands or mangrove stands, and its range is now largely restricted to Florida [15]. Other rare birds found in cypress swamps include short-tailed hawk (Buteo brachyurus), southern bald eagle [36], and osprey (Pandion haliaetus). The roseate spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja) is found in dwarf cypress savannas [17]. The Florida panther, which is endangered, is restricted to Big Cypress Swamp and the Everglades [15]. Ewel [17] subjectively rated the contributions of various cypress swamp parameters to bird and mammal habitat. All three types of cypress swamps were rated low in canopy insect production, low in edible seed and fruit production, and low in vegetative density. Cypress domes and strands were rated high in cavity density, but dwarf cypress savannas were rated low. All three types were rated high for presence of water. Dwarf cypress savannas are important for their sparse cover; this community provides perching sites for raptors and wading birds that search for small organisms in an open environment [17]. OTHER VALUES : Cypress swamps recharge groundwater and play a role in regional flood control. Cypress domes in northern Florida are under study for wastewater treatment areas [18,19]. Nutrient enrichment from wastewater dumping result in immediate response among floating aquatics and herbaceous species. Net photosynthesis in cypresses growing in sewage-treated domes increased over a 6-year study, but there was no net increased tree growth [5,40]. Other uses of cypress swamps include harvesting of peat and phosphate mining. Reclamation after phosphate mining usually converts the site to planted grass pasture [17]. A detailed review of cypress swamp values has been published [18]. MANAGEMENT CONCERNS : Currently, most of the extant cypress swamps in southern Florida are under management or protection in Big Cypress National Preserve, a 920 square mile (2,300 sq km) area. Other preserves in which cypress swamps occur include Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Fakahatchee State Preserve, and Everglades National Park [19]. Southern Florida has the youngest flora of any area in the United States; perhaps 3,000 to 5,000 years have passed since establishment of vegetation on newly emerged land. It has been hypothesized that since the flora is so young, there are many unfilled niches which therefore facilitate invasion by exotic species [41]. Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia) invasion affects groundwater levels in cypress swamps through increased transpiration [17]. Other impacts of melaleuca invasion are discussed in FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS. Many cypress swamps have been drained, logged, impounded, or experienced other disturbances. Drainage allows invasion by species with low flood tolerance, and often results in significant decrease in primary productivity [17]. Drainage of cypress swamps causes a shift in the frequency distribution of reptile and amphibian species but no differences in abundance or richness [28]. Cypress swamps in northern Florida had poor cypress regeneration, increased shrub density, hardwood invasion, and increased fire potential after drainage [17]. Logging activities change drainage patterns due to the construction of dikes, roads and tramways, and the loss of trees (with concomitant lower transpiration rates). Regeneration after logging in cypress swamps is usually dominated by hardwoods. Water level changes and lack of cypress seed are responsible for the lack of cypress regeneration [17]. Structural characteristics change with logging of large old-growth cypress and affect bark-gleaning birds, reptiles, amphibians, and large arboreal mammals such as raccoons. These changes include loss of nest sites for cavity nesting species. Species that forage in open areas are temporarily benefited. Logging slash favors certain species of herpetiles, small mammals (i.e., cotton mouse), and birds (i.e., rufous-sided towhee). Breeding birds respond favorably to edges created by clearcutting pinelands that surround cypress swamps. Individual density of animals, number of species, species diversity and density are all higher in sharply defined edges than in ecotones [28]. Alexander and Crook [46] documented vegetation changes in southern Florida over the last 16 to 30 years, on 100 mile square (160 km square) quadrats. They concluded that the natural ecosystem will continue to lose its diversity and ability to maintain itself with any resemblance to the pre-1940 condition unless ways are found to return and properly distribute more water to wild habitats, control exotics, and manage fire.

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Information Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Fire Effects Information System

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