Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning


Global Litter Invertebrate Decomposition Experiment

MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center
(a Division of Archbold Biological Station), USA

Site Manager

Dr. Patrick J. Bohlen
Research Biologist
MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center
(A division of Archbold Biological Station)
300 Buck Island Ranch Rd.
Lake Placid, FL 33852
Telephone: (+1) 863 699 0242 x22
Fax: (+1) 863 699 2217

Site Description

The MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center is the site of a unique program to assess the effects of cattle ranching on the native ecosystems of south central Florida. The Center is a working cattle ranch with a herd of approximately 3,000 cattle included approximately 2,800 cross breed brood cows used in cow-calf production, which is the dominant land use in the region. The ranch is on a long-term lease to Archbold Biological Station from the John D. and and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The climate at the site is subtropical with distinct wet and dry seasons and an average annual rainfall of ~1,300 mm with large inter-annual variability. Nearly 75% of the annual rainfall occurs during the wet season months of May through October. Mean annual temperature is 22‰C with average maximum summer temperatures of 33‰C. Soils at the experimental sites are seasonally wet, poorly drained find sands with pH ranging from slightly to strongly-acidic. More than 450 mostly seasonal isolated wetlands occupy roughly 6% of the ranch area. Most of these wetlands have periods of standing water in the wet season (May-October) but dry out in the dry season (November-April).

Site Location

The site is located in south central Florida, USA, due west of the north edge of Lake Okeechobee (27‰9.716 N, 81‰12.028 W). The dominant land use in the region is agriculture with beef cattle cow-calf production is the most extensive land use. Natural vegetation was dry and wet prairies, flatwoods and wetland sloughs. Major hydrologic modifications during the past 50 years have reduced the wetland coverage in the region substantially.

Site Area

Site area is 4,170 ha.

Site Elevation

Site elevation is 8.0-9.5 m above sea level.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall is about 1,300 mm.

Annual Temperature

Mean annual temperature is 22 degrees Celcius.


Soils at the site are hyperthermic poorly drained fine sands and include Spodosols, Alfisols and Histosols.

Native Forest/Vegetation Types

Natural vegetation types include wet prairies dominated by native tall grasses (Andropogon virginicus, Andropogon glomeratus, Andropogon capillipes, Panicum spp., Paspalum laeve, Axonopus affinis) and grass marshes dominated by maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) or sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense). Other important wetland vegetation includes broadleaf emergent macrophytes (Sagitaria lanceolata, Pontederia cordata) and rushes (Eliocharis vivipara, Juncus effusus, Scirpus spp.). Improved pastures consisting primarily of Bahai grass (Paspalum notatum) occupy approximately 1,500 hectares of the site, primarily on the higher elevation areas with Spodosol soils. Scattered woodlands or hammocks consist mainly of sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) and live oak (Quercus virginiana). The GLIDE experiment is being set up in a semi-improved wet prairie pasture with cattle excluded.

Principal Biome/Ecoregion

Ecoregion is subtropical dry and wet prairies and marshes.

Photo Gallery

Photos courtesy of Patrick Bohlen



What is GLIDE?



Study Design



2005 Meeting

2003 Meeting


Image Gallery



This webpage is funded by the Soil Science Society of America.

Please contact the GLIDE headquarters (email: if you have any comments or questions.

GLIDE was a project of the International Biodiversity Observation Year 2001-2002

This material is based upon work supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 98 06437 Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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This page was last updated on February 1, 2005

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