Pine Rockland

Ecosystem
pine rockland
Pine rockland consists of open canopies of slash pines with patchy understory and groundcover layers. The south Florida slash pine (Pinus ellioti var.densa) and associated palm community are fire-adapted and dependent on periodic fires for their long-term survival. The refuge conducts periodic prescribed burns in order to maintain the health of the pine rockland habitat.

Pine rockland is a globally endangered plant community. In the U.S. it is found only in the Lower Florida Keys, Everglades National Park, and in scattered parcels in Miami-Dade County, representing less than 3
percent of its original extent. Loss of pine rockland is primarily due to development, habitat fragmentation, and impacts of sea level rise and storm surge.

Pine rockland occurs at elevations 3 to 8 feet above mean sea level and are usually underlain by a freshwater lens. Pine rockland has the highest plant diversity of all plant communities in the Florida Keys. A total of 250 species of plants has been identified in the pine rocklands of south Florida and the Lower Keys.

Saltwater intrusion from hurricanes and sea-level rise pose the greatest risks to the remaining pine rocklands. Many slash pines were killed by the saltwater storm surge associated with hurricanes in 1998 (Georges) and 2005 (Wilma).

Facts About Pine Rockland

Only about 2% of the original distribution of pine rockland remains in south Florida. 

National Key Deer Refuge is home to the only pine rockland habitat in the Florida Keys.