Research

Forest Preserve

Forest Preserve banner

Location: Tampa campus --- Check out the image gallery at the bottom of the page !
Contact David Lewis

Forest Preserve Key Sign Out Form

The USF Forest Preserve has two primary functions: research and teaching. The Forest Preserve is a 500-acre plot of wetland and sandhill habitat. It is home to a variety of plants and animals, many of whom are threatened or endangered and also several that are fire-dependent. Part of the area is routinely burned in order to conduct research on ecological succession. USF policies on the Forest Preserve.

plots of land

Student Testimonial

Christian Brown Ph.D. student Deban Lab.
'We discuss the utility of game-cameras and professions that require such field skills, then they go out and hang/harvest the cameras themselves. The experience boosts their confidence in the field better preparing them for job interviews later on, but more importantly the students have a blast.

On a broader scope I also appreciate the eco-preserve, the terminus of a wildlife corridor extending from the Green Swamp core conservation area, as a jumping off-point for my students to think about far more than cameras. The cameras give them a window into another world, and get them thinking about the species but also about conservation, ecology, evolution, and more.

Almost every time we go back there a student declares they just saw species that they had never seen prior, on multiple occasions I have seen students hold their first snake out there, and on one day after a trip to the preserve a student came to office hours proclaiming they were leaving their pre-vet track to pursue a career as a field biologist. The forest preserve offers students a chance to experience wildlife on an intimate level.

An inspirational chance to see and think about a world we are so disconnected from. A chance to study life outside the classroom, where life is still life.'

Check out the image gallery below !

Research and Teaching

Research

It is the setting for many research projects and conservation efforts. The Forest Preserve offers considerable value to research at USF by supporting a variety of types of research projects (ecology, biology, geology, archeaology, engineering, etc.).

Teaching

Besides its role as a research facility for scientists and other researchers, the Forest Preserve is a learning tool for USF students and teachers, and a valuable asset to the University community. It provides hands-on experience for USF students and teaches a better understanding of the web of relationships in this habitat. It is a central part of the ecology courses and students taking ecology classes have several Forest Preserve based labs. Other departments at USF use the Forest Preserve for teaching as well. 

Professors, post-doctoral fellows, grad students and undergraduate students from several departments use the Forest Preserve for their research. Use of the Forest Preserve for teaching or research requires approval in the form of a brief written proposal by the Forest Preserve Advisory Committee.

There are two purposes to this proposal. (1) To maintain the health of the Forest Preserve and the organisms in it, and assure proper, compatible use by all users (2) To provide adequate information as to who is using the Forest Preserve and for what purposes, and whose study plots, flags, etc., are whose. The Forest Preserve Advisory Committee will not evaluate the overall scientific or pedagogic merit of your proposed work, but may reject or suggest modifications to all requests for use based entirely on the expected impact on the Forest Preserve and the populations of organisms in it. Once approved, any departure from or modification of a proposal for Forest Preserve use, must be accompanied by approval of modified proposal before work begins. Unauthorized use of the Forest Preserve will lead to revocation of all use privileges. The required information must be submitted to Dr. David Lewis prior to beginning of research or teaching in the Forest Preserve.

Current and Recent Ecological Research

Studies

Studies of burn plots in the forest preserve

A series of plots have been burned at varying intervals since the 1970's. Formally these are burned every 1, 2, 5, and 7 yrs (or never burned). Since burning requires permits, in reality these plots are burned at somewhat different frequencies than these, but the "1 year" plots are certainly burned more often than the "2 year" plots, etc.

Ecosystems

A variety of species live in the Forest Preserve. Below are links to photos of common species of flowering plants found in the USF Forest Preserve. This material is used in "Principles of Ecology Lab" on plant diversity.

In addition to the flora, there are of course a variety of fauna as well. Here is a link to a list of mammals, reptiles and amphibians observed in the Forest Preserve since 1999.

Classes using the Forest Preserve

Teaching in the Forest Preserve

The Forest Preserve has been and is currently used for teaching at USF. It is a central part of the ecology curriculum in the Department of Integrative Biology, and students taking ecology classes have several Forest Preserve based labs. Other departments at USF use the Forest Preserve as well for educating students. Classes currently using the Forest Preserve include:

  • Vertebrate Zoology (ZOO 4307)
  • Field Botany (BOT3152C/BSC6932)
  • Principles of ecology (PCB3043L)
  • Population biology (PCB6462C)
  • Statistical ecology (PCB6455)
  • Wetland environments (EVR4027)
  • Ecosystems of Florida (EVR4930)
  • Soils in archaeological research (ANG 6115.001)
  • Diversity and evolution of plants (BSC4933)
  • Hydrogeology field methods (GLY4947L)
  • Ecology of plants (BSC4933)
  • Ecohydrology (GLY6824)
  • Herpetology (BSC 5425)

Locations and Directions

Location and directions to the Forest Preserve

The Forest Preserve is located on the north side of Fletcher Ave., between the USF golf course and Riverfront Park.

From I-75

Exit I-75 at Fletcher Ave. and go west until you cross the Hillsborough River. Just after the river is Riverfront Park (on the north side of Fletcher, your right).

The Forest Preserve starts just after the Park (there's no sign) and ends at the Golf Course.

Do not plan to drive into the Forest Preserve. In general, you should park on the shoulder (well off the road). There are two gates: one across from 52nd St., and one across from Jo-Mar Dr. (0.4 mi. east of 56th St.).

The fire lanes in the Forest Preserve are not suitable for most light vehicles -- you don't want to get stuck in the sand!

We are trying to preserve nature here, not run it over.

There are very few places to park without blocking the fire lane for others.

You are never allowed off road even to turn around

From I-275 or the USF campus

Go east on Fletcher until you pass the USF golf course on your left. The Forest Preserve begins where the forest begins, and ends at Riverfront Park.

Entry and parking

Do not plan to drive into the Forest Preserve. In general, you should park on the shoulder (well off the road). There are two gates: one across from 52nd St., and one across from Jo-Mar Dr. (0.4 mi. east of 56th St.).

The fire lanes in the Forest Preserve are not suitable for most light vehicles -- you don't want to get stuck in the sand!

We are trying to preserve nature here, not run it over.

There are very few places to park without blocking the fire lane for others.

You are never allowed off road even to turn around

Aerial photos and maps of the Forest Preserve

otters500

deerbuck
toadsnake500
wildboar1
bobcatcloseup500
bobcat500
skinksnake500
wildboar2500