The much- renowned ghost orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii, is one of three leafless species at home in the swamps; just a cluster of epiphytic roots, except for a gorgeous bloom in the early summer.
A curious white- tailed deer fawn and mother feed on tender shoots that spring up just weeks after a prescribed fire in the pines.
Where do panthers live? Panthers establish very large home ranges and require habitats that provide protective cover for feeding and resting. Among the most preferred south Florida habitats are hardwood swamps and upland pine and oak hammock forests that also provide cover and food for their primary prey — white-tailed deer, wild hogs and other small mammals such as raccoons, armadillos and rabbits. These types of habitat are found on large, public-owned lands, such as the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, but also include nearby Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Picayune Strand State Forest and large private ranches. Panthers generally avoid urban areas and intensively managed agricultural areas.
What research is being done? Intensive radio-instrumentation and monitoring was initiated in 1981 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Information from tracking radio- collared panthers helped determine preferred habitat, home range size, dispersal behavior, and provided information on birth rates and causes of death. The research also indicated that the panther was suffering health