Scrub Jay at Archbold Biological Station.

The Archbold Biological Station (ABS) was established in 1941 by Richard Archbold when his sponsorship of zoological research in New Guinea was curtailed by the outbreak of the Second World War in the Pacific region. Archbold acquired the initial land for the biological research station from the Roebling family and later additional land was purchased.

Archbold has a wonderful and eclectic history. He appointed Dr. James N. Layne as the first Director of Research at Archbold Biological Station in 1967. Dr. Layne immediately initiated long-term, mark-and-recapture projects for all of the small and large mammal species, Gopher Tortoises, snakes, and some birds. Dr. Layne said, “Many field projects will be conducted on a long-term basis with the objective of obtaining a better understanding of the biology of important species. In addition to their intrinsic value, such data will contribute to overall knowledge of the ecosystems represented.”

Per the Archbold website, “Dr. Layne had the foresight to establish rigorous, long-term monitoring programs and records on geology, geography, land-use history, fire history, hydrology, climate, vegetation, and animal species. In his shirt pocket he always had pens, pencils, and 3×5 cards to immediately record field observations.”

Archbold’s 10,500-acre Buck Island Ranch is home to the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center. The center contributes vital understanding towards sustaining working lands and subtropical ecosystems in Florida and around the globe.

ABS supports 19 federally listed threatened species and 13 endemic plant species. On July 20, 2007, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The station and grounds are open to visitors that register at the main office. The location includes displays about the property and its history, a video about the biodiversity and conservation of the Lake Wales Ridge, a 1/2 mile nature trail and picnic tables.

Ranch eco-tours are offered.

ABS offers nature and environmental education programs for schools, adults and specialty groups. Check out the great vimeo and YouTube videos on the Archbold website. One is narrated by Hilary Swain, the executive director of Archbold and a master ecologist. Abundant wildlife and amazing plant life cover ABS; during my most recent trip I was able to see many of the delightful scrub jays and other protected species.

Archbold Biological Station is located at 123 Main Dr. in Venus. Call 863-465-2571.

Get out and enjoy the Great Florida Outdoors.