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Top: saw palmetto, Serenoa repens, is a native species that can be harmed by encroaching exotic vegetation. Its berries are a valuable food source for bears and deer; bottom: the American alligato , once endangered, is a popular swamp inhabitant.

Wood ducks, including this male, are sometimes seen on ponds and among the stands of flooded cypress.

Why do we remove non-native invasive plants from the Refuge? As people moved into Florida, they brought non-native plants with them. Some of these plants escaped cultivation and became established in the natural areas of Florida. Several of the most prolific species are Brazilian peppertree, Australian pine, Melaleuca, and old world climbing fern. These species are extremely invasive and can limit or prevent native plants from growing in natural areas.

Large acreages of these invasive plants change the fire regime of the area, reducing fire in some cases and increasing its destructive effects in other circumstances. Non-native plants also degrade wildlife habitat. By removing these plants from the environment through the use of mechanical removal, herbicides, or biological means (e.g. release of specific insects that parasitize or consume a specific plant species), vegetation communities are improved for wildlife.

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