Archbold scientists are always busy as bees, trying to untangle the mystery of Florida’s ecosystems and the many unique organisms that call them home. But, once a year they stop fieldwork and data analyses, and gather to meet, learn and celebrate each other’s accomplishments for the year at the annual Archbold Research Symposium.

“I hear bits and pieces about what other scientists are doing in passing,” tells research assistant in the Plant Ecology Program Stephanie Koontz, “but, rarely do I get the whole story from beginning to end about what my fellow scientists are up to.”

The annual Archbold Research Symposium is a chance for each scientist to show off what they shared with the rest of the scientific world during the year, and the venues they got to explore. “The purpose of the symposium is to give a presentation on a topic that was shared at a larger conference earlier in the year. While it is important to share our findings with the scientific world, it is important to share them with each other as well,” explains research assistant Rebecca Windsor from the Avian Ecology Program.

The symposium provides a glance into each programs’ research and collaborations throughout the year. In previous years’ symposia, Buck Island’s Agroecology Program provided an update on long-term vegetation trends in seasonal wetlands. Attendees learned about the science of spiders from visiting researcher Dr. James Carrel from the University of Missouri, a long-time collaborator with the Invertebrate Biology Program. There was a talk from Archbold’s plant ecologists on the importance of protecting multiple populations of a rare plant to conserve its limited genetic diversity.

Attendees also heard about advances in species management for the highly imperiled Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. A poster session allowed attendees to browse and discuss results with the scientist leading the research.

“It is fascinating to learn about so many different facets of ecology, from wetlands to birds to tortoises to outdoor education. And all are working towards the same common goal, to understand and conserve the diverse ecosystems of Florida,” remarked research intern Seth Raynor.

What started out as a small gathering on a Thursday afternoon has now expanded well beyond Archbold staff. “Last year, we had several visiting biologists and land managers attend and listen to our presentations. The public is increasingly interested. Everyone who is curious about Archbold science and science education is invited to join us,” says Archbold Director, Dr. Hilary Swain.

This year, the 4th Annual Archbold Research Symposium will be held on Thursday, Dec. 12 from 1-5 p.m. at the Frances Hufty Learning Center.

All are welcome, so feel free to stop by for one, two, or all of the presentations and learn about the work Archbold scientists are doing to understand and conserve the organisms of Florida’s heartland, from ridge to ranch. Presentations will be 15 minutes in length, with time for questions from the audience, and will cover topics such as rare plants of the Florida scrub, Red-cockaded woodpeckers at Avon Park Air Force Range, advances in drone technology, and the birds and insects that live on cattle ranches.

Scientific posters can also be viewed during the intermission or after talks have concluded. An agenda will be posted soon on the Archbold Facebook page and website archbold-station.org.