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Species 101

Florida’s peninsular geography spans temperate and subtropical zones, which, combined with its distinctive geology and climate, contribute not only to habitat diversity but also to an amazing array of species: about 700 vertebrates, more than 30,000 invertebrates and more than 2,840 native plant species. Florida hosts the greatest diversity of plant families of all U.S. states, and as many as 295 plants, 88 vertebrates and 261 invertebrates are found nowhere else in the world. These endemic species include the Florida scrub-jay, Key deer and Okaloosa darter, to name just a few. The ancient dune system of the Lake Wales Ridge in the central peninsula supports numerous endemics including the federally listed sand skink and Florida blazing star. Another center of endemism, the Miami Ridge rocklands of South Florida, contains numerous plant species unique to that region, most of which are federally endangered such as the rocklands morning Glory and Florida Brickell-bush.

Featured Florida Plant and Animal Links

  • Florida Torreya Tree

    The Florida Torreya Tree is an evergreen that is found only in a small area along the Apalachicola River in Florida's panhandle and in an immediately adjacent region in South Georgia. An endangered species, trees formerly reached a height of 60 feet tall but are now seen in the wild only as low sprouts as the trees are top-killed by a lethal fungus. The trees have whorled branches and bright needles that are 1 - 1.5 inch long, flat, stiff, and sharply pointed.

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  • Florida Scrub-Jay

    The Florida scrub-jay, recognized in 1995 as a distinct species from the scrub-jays in the western United States, is the only bird species whose entire range is restricted to Florida. This species inhabits fire-dominated oak scrub habitat found on well-drained sandy soils in the Florida peninsula. Since Florida scrub-jays are both habitat-specific and sedentary, the species is dependent on the preservation of quality scrub communities for its continued existence.

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