Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Along the road from Royal Palm Hammock to Flamingo in Everglades National Park are sun-drenched forests of nearly miniature dimensions. The trees are widely spaced and the sun reaches the river of sawgrass beneath them. Most of the trees are only ten to fifteen feet tall. The tallest may reach 30 feet. These are not young trees growing in an area that suffered some natural or man-made catastrophe. Some of these dwarf cypresses are more than a century old, but they're doing their best in a very hostile environment; their roots are in sand and rock with few nutrients. Dwarf cypresses of the Everglades aren't a unique species, but a growth form of the pond cypress, which itself is considered a growth form of the sometimes 120-foot tall bald cypress of North Florida. The water and fire cycles, nutrients, and soils of their environment shape these different forms of cypress. Here, red-shouldered hawks, fish crows, and other Everglades birds in this miniature forest are brought to near eye-level by the height of their perches.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.