The Great Florida Outdoors: The Archbold Biological Station


Dr. Robert Norman, Clinical Professor, Dermatology
Nova Southeastern University

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. Richard Archbold 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.”

Dr. Mark Deyrup, Archbold Entomologist since 1983, said, “In his alert and respectful attention to the natural world Jim Layne was a model to us all.”

In 2011, Dr. Layne donated materials from his professional career, part of the “Dr. James N. Layne Collection.” The collection is under active archival care and is open for use by Archbold staff and visiting researchers, and continues to inform some of Florida’s critical environmental trends as well as contributing to many other scientific studies.

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.

Get out and enjoy the Great Florida Outdoors!

Archbold Biological Station, 123 Main Dr., Venus, FL, 33960
Phone: 863-465-2571

Get out and enjoy the Great Florida Outdoors!

Dr. Norman is an advanced master naturalist graduate of the FMNP program from UF and a board-certified dermatologist based in Tampa and Riverview. He can be reached at 813-880-7546.


Leave a Reply