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About the Brooker Creek Watershed

Plants and Animals

A rich variety of life exists in the Brooker Creek watershed. Several different habitat types allow for the great diversity of plants and animals that make the watershed their home. Some areas have dry, sandy soil that supports pine trees and palmettos; others are constantly covered with standing water and are home to numerous cypress trees. Unique conditions exist within each distinct habitat type that make it possible for the watershed to support such a wide variety of plant and animal life.

Sandhill habitat is dry with sandy soil that does not hold water. Many drought-tolerant plants live here, including the turkey oak, longleaf pine and tar flowers. Florida mice, raccoons, opossums, bobcats, foxes and coyotes make their home here along with turkeys, eastern towhee, pine warblers, night hawks and bobwhite quail. The gopher tortoise is prevalent in sandhill areas.

Maple Swamp

Maple swamps are wet areas covered by water for large parts of the year. These wetlands are home to snakes, lizards, skinks, tree frogs and narrowmouth toads. Insects such as mosquitoes, deer flies, crane flies, snow bugs, dung beatles and centipedes are common. Spiders, including golden silk and wolf spiders, dine on the rich variety of insects. Plant species that grow in the swamp must be able to live in very wet conditions. The rich vegetation provides homes to numerous birds, including the red-shouldered hawk, barred owl and great crested flycatcher.

Pine Flatwoods

This high and dry habitat is characterized by sandy soils supporting generous growths of longleaf pine, slash pine and saw palmetto. Under these trees, the area is generally open and home to deer and many of the same mammals common in sandhill areas. The trees also support Carolina wren, pine warblers, eastern towhee and yellow-throated warblers.

Cypress Swamp

Cypress swamps are full of standing water and cypress, maple and other water-tolerant trees. Multiple vine species, including wax myrtle and the Tampa Bay butterfly orchid, hang from the trees giving the swamp its unique eerie appearance. While observing mushrooms, shelf fungi and other colorful growths that thrive on dead and decaying wood, you may stumble across Florida's largest reptile, the alligator.

Water plays an essential role in each of these ecosystems. Changes in the amount of available water can start a chain reaction felt throughout the entire ecosystem. An increase or reduction in the amount of available water can cause less versatile plants to die. Animals who depend on these plants for food or shelter will then be forced to move elsewhere or will eventually die out. Additionally, new plants will move in to take the place of those that have died, and with these new plants could come new animals that further upset the balance that once existed in the ecosystem. The end result could be the extinction of plants and animals that had specifically adapted themselves to the habitat conditions present only in Florida ecosystems. Similar chain reactions could be caused by declining water quality or changes in the seasonal flood cycles.
Longleaf pine
Longleaf pine

Gopher tortoise Gopher tortoise

Maple swamp Maple swamp

Barking Tree Frog
Barking tree frog

Pine flatwoods
Pine flatwoods

Cypress Swamp
Cypress swamp

American Alligator
American alligator

Beauty Berry Flower
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About the Brooker Creek Watershed
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