About Field Sites
The Flint River (FLNT) is an aquatic site situated at the headwaters of the Flint River south of Atlanta, GA in the Piedmont Lowlands. FLNT is located on within the Jones Ecological Research Center, a 117 km2 (29,000 acre) reserve privately owned and managed by the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. The Flint River shapes 20.9 km (13 miles) of the eastern property boundary of the Center. The Flint River is a non-wadeable river flowing 554 km (344 mi.) through Georgia into Lake Seminole at the confluence of the Chattahoochee River. It is part of the ACF basin, ultimately feeding into the Apalachicola River and into the Gulf of Mexico. The sampling site is located at the southern extent of the watershed near the confluence with Ichawaynochaway Creek. The site is encompassed within the NEON Southeast Domain that is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. The surrounding region is a patchwork of forest, grassland, and wetland communities embedded in a matrix that is increasingly dominated by a fast-growing human population. The Domain hosts five other NEON field sites, including two additional aquatic sites and three terrestrial sites, located in Florida and Georgia. It is colocated with the JERC terrestrial field site.   
The Jones Center (JERC) has hot and humid summers, short and mild winters, and abundant rainfall throughout the year. The annual average air temperature is 17-21°C (62-70°F), ranging from 21-34°C (70-93°F) in summer and 5-17°C (41-62°F) in winter. The average annual temperature is 19.2°C (66.5°F). The average annual precipitation is 1216 mm (48 in.) and is evenly distributed throughout the year. The region has 230-260 frost-free days a year. Predominant winds at the site are out of the northeast. The area frequently experiences natural climate perturbations, such as hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, drought, and flooding.     
The Flint River is situated on the Dougherty Plain, which demonstrates a karst topography. The limestone geology of the Flint River site is significant because groundwater is able to seep through fissures in the bedrock and form rocky stream channels. The river bed also consists of undifferentiated clay, mud, and beach sand.   
Soils are fairly homogeneous within the Jones Center and are representative of soils of the Southern Coastal Plains. The Flint River contains soils consisting of undifferentiated clay, mud, and beach sand.  
The Flint River has a watershed size of approximately 14,999 km2 (5791 sq. mi.).The flow of the river depends on the season; the base flow occurring in fall and the peak flow occurring in spring. The variability in the base flow and peak flow throughout the year corresponds to approximately a 2 meter change in water levels. There are two hydropower dams upriver from the site; one approximately 80 km (50 mi.) upriver near Albany, GA and another approximately 49 km (30 mi.) upriver from Albany near Cordele, GA. 
The aquatic and wetland habitats surrounding the Flint River site range from cypress-gum ponds and grassy, ephemeral wetlands to riverine habitats, such as cypress sloughs. Diverse hardwood forests, called hammocks, are found on alluvial soils adjacent to the Flint River. Dominant plant taxa include: pignut hickory (Carya glabra), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), live oak (Quercus virginiana), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Florida maple (Acer floridanum), white ash (Fraxinus americana), swamp ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), sugarberry (Celtis laevigata), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor), Gulf Sebastian-bush (Ditrysinia fruticosa), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and Virginia willow (Itea virginica).  
The Flint River is a diverse ecosystem, containing a variety of aquatic species. The river is home to many species of turtles including Barbour’s map (Graptemys barbouri), spotted (Clemmys guttata), alligator snapping (Macrochelys temminckii), and the eastern river cooter turtle (Pseudemys concinna concinna). Fish present in the river consist of American eels (Anguilla rostrata), several bass species, catfish, and bream. The Flint River is also home to the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), freshwater shellfish, and several species of salamanders. Four federally protected mussel species (shinyrayed pocketbook, Gulf moccassinshell, oval pigtoe, and purple bankclimber) are also found in the river out of the 22 mussel species that have been documented.   
Past Land Management and Use
Long before European settlement, native people navigated the waters of the Flint River in their dugout canoes collecting flint. As a result of de Soto’s conquests, the lower Flint was abandoned for almost two centuries until the late 1700s when the Flint River valley was once again repopulated by indigenous tribes. In the early 1800s, the Flint River was site of many conflicts between new Georgians and the Creek and Seminole Native Americans. By 1836, the Native Americans were largely removed from Southwest Georgia and settlers began to claim the lands for agriculture. Cotton and other goods were transported and sold by steamboat on the Flint River. The effects of the Civil War, soil erosion, the boll weevil, and the Great Depression devastated the farmers in the region, and they were forced to diversify their crops and raise livestock. Early agriculturists in western Georgia used gristmills to grind their grain, which were powered by water from the Flint River’s tributaries. Between 1880 and 1920, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers drastically reshaped the lower Flint River by deploying dredge boats, drill boats, and explosives in a failed attempt to enable commercial navigation. In the 1920s, Robert W. Woodruff founded a quail hunting preserve on an old cotton plantation, which is now the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway (JERC). Woodruff was an avid hunter and outdoorsman and understood the importance of maintaining the natural longleaf pine ecosystem. In 1991, the JERC was established and staff were hired to conduct research and provide forest and wildlife management. Over the years, the land of the JERC has been altered by naval store industries, timber harvest, agricultural clearing, grazing by feral hogs, and fire suppression. Natural disasters have also plagued the Flint River, including tropical storms like Alberto in 1994 and Hurricane Michael in 2018, which resulted in millions of gallons of runoff from the city of Atlanta to be dumped into the Flint River and major flooding occurring in surrounding counties.     
Current Land Management and Use
The Jones Center at Ichauway (JERC) was founded on the principle of conserving our natural resources. The center hosts on average 20 or more graduate students pursuing MS and PhD degrees from several cooperating universities. Their research is conducted at Ichauway with topics that are central to the site’s programs and significant to the natural resources of the region. Long-term research programs conducted at the site include dynamics of frequent fire in longleaf pine ecosystems, ecological forestry and restoration of longleaf pine ecosystems, and the ecological role of mesopredators. Beyond their long-term projects, the center also engages in many external projects and collaborations. The programs are significant for natural resource management and conservation in the Southeast. The site focus on two management zones on Ichauway that accommodate the diverse conservation, research and education goals of the organization. Natural ecosystems and elements of biological diversity are managed in a conservation zone to restore the structure and function of the natural landscape. Maintaining sustainable practices and patterns for wildlife land use and forest management conserves biological diversity in their multiple-use zone. Their fire regime helps maintain structure and function of the natural longleaf pine forest as well as minimizing damaging effects of wildfire by maintaining a lower fuel load. They conduct many prescribed fires throughout the year with a management goal to burn around sixty percent of the property annually in a two-year fire return interval or less, depending on resource objectives. There are over 144 different burn units ranging from 5 acres to 900 acres. The majority of burning activities take place in spring or early summer using 4-wheel ATV units equipped with a rear-mounted electronic drip torch and a front-mounted water supply for firefighting. Frequent prescribed fires are used to maintain the longleaf pine dominance and associated species-rich ground cover plant community. Their broad management goal for upland sites is to maintain and restore the pine ecosystem. Forests are managed over long time scales with relatively low per-acre volume harvests. Silvicultural activities are taken with care to minimize impacts on wildlife habitat and ground cover communities and maintain the distribution of fine fuels for prescribed fires. The site is removing oak-encroached systems and restoring the natural stand density and fire regime that supports native Longleaf Pine and wiregrass plant communities. A portion of property is still managed to support a wild quail population for hunting. Management techniques include prescribed burning, roller chopping, herbicide application, maintenance and propagation of cover, winter disking, agricultural plantings, supplemental feeding and predator regulation. Management activities such as prescribed burning, management of early successional habitats and cultivation of food plots to facilitate harvest are used in maintaining the site’s white-tailed deer population.  [21-24]
NEON Site Establishment
The Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway encompasses 117 km2 (30,000 acres) in Baker County, Georgia, with approximately 14 km2 (3500 acres) of the southwest corner of the site designated for NEON research. This area includes the tower and soil array, the aquatic monitoring site along the creek, and terrestrial field sampling plots. The Flint River site is located in the southern extend of the watershed near the confluence with Ichawaynochaway Creek. In January of 2016, a 21 km (13 mi.) stretch of the Flint River running along the JERC property boundary was surveyed to find a straight stretch of the river with few shoals and minimal impacts to existing NEON protocols at the site. A 1000 m reach of the river with no shoals was found between two river bends buffeted by shoals and a bathymetric survey was conducted. Sufficient data was captured in the survey to determine an appropriate measurement location for the buoy. A Sontek Argonaut SL 500 was deployed to capture data on the discharge and velocity profile of the river and with satellite imagery the width of the river was determined. Other measurements of the river profile taken were temperature, conductance, dissolved oxygen and fluorescent dissolved organic matter. The groundwater observation wells consist of 7 wells installed using a rotary auger rig. The Aquatic Observation System (AOS) was completed June 2017 and the Aquatic Instrument System (AIS) was completed in February 2018.  
 Aquatic Instrument System (AIS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 03. NEON.DOC.001591vC
 Michael SanClements, Robert H Lee, E D Ayres, Keli Goodman, Morgan Jones, David Durden, Katherine Thibault, Rommel Zulueta, Joshua Roberti, Claire Lunch, Adrian Gallo, Collaborating with NEON, BioScience, Volume 70, Issue 2, February 2020, Page 107, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biaa005.
 Ichauway. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.jonesctr.org/about/ichauway.php
 Hendricks, J. J., Hendrick, R. L., Wilson, C. A., Mitchell, R. J., Pecot, S. D., & Guo, D. (2006). Assessing the patterns and controls of fine root dynamics: An empirical test and methodological review. Journal of Ecology, 94(1), 40-57. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2005.01067.x
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Supporting Data: Domain 03. NEON.DOC.011035vD
 US Department of Commerce, & Noaa. (2020, April 08). TAE Significant Weather Events. Retrieved May 08, 2020, from https://www.weather.gov/tae/events
 Crockett, LeRoy. (2018). NEON Site-Level Plot Summary, Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway (JERC), November 2018. Retrived from https://data.neonscience.org/documents/10179/2361410/JERC_Soil_SiteSumm…
 Smith, Lora L., et al. "The vertebrate fauna of Ichauway, Baker County, GA." Southeastern Naturalist 5.4 (2006): 599-620.
 Drew, M., Kirkman, L., & Angus K. Gholson, Jr. (1998). The Vascular Flora of Ichauway, Baker County, Georgia: A Remnant Longleaf Pine/Wiregrass Ecosystem. Castanea, 63(1), 1-24. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/4034053
 Cook, J. (2017). Flint River User's Guide. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.
 Fair, J. D. (2010). The Tifts of Georgia: Connecticut Yankees in King Cotton's court. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
 Drew, Mark B., L. Katherine Kirkman, and Angus K. Gholson Jr. "The vascular flora of Ichauway, Baker County, Georgia: a remnant longleaf pine/wiregrass ecosystem." Castanea (1998): 1-24.
 Muenz, Tara K., Stephen P. Opsahl, and Stephen W. Golladay. "Current Conditions of Historical Mussel Habitat in the Flint River Basin, Georgia." Georgia Institute of Technology, 2007.
 PRISM Climate Group , Oregon State University,http://prism.oregonstate.edu, created 4 Feb 2004.
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
This site has a meteorological station located in the riparian area and one meteorological station above water on a buoy. The met stations are outfitted with the a subset of the same sensors used at terrestrial sites. Measurements include wind speed and direction, air temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, shortwave radiation, and PAR.
A phenocam is pointed toward the land-water interface of the site. Here we show the images from the most recent hour. The full collection of images can be viewed on the Phenocam Gallery - click on the image below.
Field Site Data
Robert Woodruff Foundation, Inc.
Site Access Allowed
Site Access Details
This area is a very active research community and will required a site research permit.
NEON Field Operations Office
Domain 03 Support Facility
NEON Field Operations Address
4579 NW 6th Street, Unit B-2
Gainesville, FL 32609
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant NLCD Classes
USGS Geology Unit
USGS Geology Name
USGS Lithologic Constituents
Alluvium and alluvial terrace
USGS Geology Age
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