Wildlife, Animals, and Plants
KUCHLER TYPE VALUE AND USE
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 . In Big Cypress Swamp, 6
of 19 bird species listed as rare, endangered, or threatened use cypress
swamps for breeding and feeding .
Cypress swamps commonly contain rookeries of wood storks (Mycteria
americana), herons (nine species and subspecies), and double-crested
cormorants . 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 . Other rare birds found in cypress swamps
include short-tailed hawk (Buteo brachyurus), southern bald eagle ,
and osprey (Pandion haliaetus). The roseate spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja) is
found in dwarf cypress savannas .
The Florida panther, which is endangered, is restricted to Big Cypress
Swamp and the Everglades .
Ewel  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 .
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 .
A detailed review of cypress swamp values has been published .
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 .
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 . Melaleuca (Melaleuca
quinquenervia) invasion affects groundwater levels in cypress swamps
through increased transpiration . 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 . Drainage of cypress swamps causes a shift in the
frequency distribution of reptile and amphibian species but no
differences in abundance or richness . Cypress swamps in northern
Florida had poor cypress regeneration, increased shrub density, hardwood
invasion, and increased fire potential after drainage . Logging
activities change drainage patterns due to the construction of dikes,
roads and tramways, and the loss of trees (with concomitant lower
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 . 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 .
Alexander and Crook  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
Related categories for Kuchler Type: Cypress savanna