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Ecological Sciences Overview

Wildlife photo collage

Florida NRCS' Ecological Sciences guides the technical assistance and programs we deliver to you. Ecological Sciences maintains the National Planning Procedures Handbook and the Field Office Technical Guide, as well as individual discipline manuals and handbooks used in conservation planning and technical assistance. We ensure conservation planning meets agency standards, addresses quality criteria for soil, water, air, plants and animals, social and economic considerations are addressed, environmental and cultural resource laws are observed and agency and partner staff are trained to perform these functions. 

Our multidisciplinary team includes an agronomist, agricultural economist, wildlife biologist, GIS specialists, plant materials specialist, cultural resource specialist, range management specialist, plant materials center manager and wetland specialist.

  • Agronomy - The art and science of crop production. Crop production is diverse in Florida, from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys. Major crops are cotton, peanuts and small grains in the panhandle; watermelons, vegetables and ornamental crops are grown in the north central region; vegetables, nurseries and citrus in the central region; and, sugarcane, vegetables, and tropical fruits are produced in the southern region.
  •  Cultural Resources - Florida archeological sites range from large, prominent prehistoric mounds, historic forts and plantations, to smaller sites, such as small scattering of artifacts that represent temporary encampments of Native American people.  Regardless of size or complexity, all archeological sites have the potential to tell us something about people and environments of the past. Archeological sites and potential impacts to these sites, along with other cultural resources such as historic buildings, are considered among the resource concerns addressed in the NRCS planning process.
  • Economic Resources  Contact is the agricultural economist.
  • Electronic Field Office Technical Guide - FOTG for Florida: - The Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG/eFOTG) is the primary technical resource for NRCS field staff to address natural resource conservation problems and to conduct conservation planning and program implementation. The eFOTG can be accessed at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/technical/fotg and consists of five sections:

                Section I: General Resource References
                Section II: Natural Resource Information
                Section III: Quality Criteria
                Section IV: Conservation Practice Standards
                Section V: Conservation Practice Physical Effects

  • Forestry & Agroforestry: Our staff works with private landowners to maintain or enhance forest and grazed forest value. NRCS conservation practice standards meet or exceed established Florida forestry best management practices. Florida staff, together with our partners and technical service providers, assist landowners to implement forestry programs and establlish forestry conservation practices that meet the client needs and sustain the health of Florida’s forests.  Contact: state biologist.
  • Maps, Imagery and Spatial Data - We are developing and compiling various geographic data layers in digital form. These layers include digital orthophoto quadrangle, digital raster graphs, soils, administrative and political boundaries, transportation, wetlands and strategic habitat conservation areas. Additional data sets such as watershed boundaries, global positioning system data, digital photographs of land features will be available soon. Contact is the GIS/GPS coordinator.
  • Toolkit Training  -  Contact is the GIS/GPS coordinator.
  • Plant Materials - Brooksville Plant Materials Center.
  • Range and Pasture - Florida’s rangelands consist of natural plant communities dominated by grasses, grass-like plants, forbs or shrubs. Our rangelands include the savannas of the flatwoods and sandhills, most coastal and inland marshes and wet and dry prairie grasslands.  Originally, Florida had over 14 million acres of rangeland. Florida’s rangelands have declined to less than 7 million acres as land has been converted for housing developments, high intensity agriculture and industry, . See also Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. Contact is the state rangeland management specialist.
  • Wildlife Biology - Our staff works with private landowners to maintain or enhance wildlife. NRCS develops wildlife habitat evaluation procedures, conservation practice standards and specifications, as well as other technical resources to help improve and maintain habitat conditions for wildlife. Together with our partners and technical service providers, we assist landowners implement wildlife programs and establish conservation practices that not only meet the client needs and ensure the sustainability and health of Florida’s terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. Contact is the state biologist.

Florida Technical Contact

Henry Burkwhat, state resource conservationist, 352-338-9543.