About Field Sites
The Joseph Jones Ecological Research Center (JERC) is a terrestrial NEON field site located within the Lower Coastal Plains and Flatwoods areas in southern Baker County, Georgia. The 117 km2 (29,000 acre) reserve is privately owned and managed by the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. The site is characterized by longleaf pine habitats mixed with patches of hardwood deciduous forest and wetlands. It 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, three aquatic and two additional terrestrial sites, located in Florida and Georgia. JERC is colocated with the FLNT aquatic field site, on the eastern boundary of the center.  
The site is located in a humid subtropical climate which consists of long, hot summers with daily temperature means ranging from 21-34°C (70-93°F) and short, cool winters with daily temperature means that range from 5-17°C (41-62°F). The avearge annual temperature is 19.2°C (66.5°F). The region has 230-260 frost-free days a year. Thunderstorms and tropical depression are common starting from mid-summer to late fall and influence other weather patterns in the area. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year with a mean annual precipitation of 1308 mm (51.5 in.).      
Geological characteristics at JERC are typical of Ocala Limestone. 
The Jones Center is located on a karst topography called the Dougherty Plain. The soil parent materials are dominantly sandy coastal plain deposits that include clay lenses. Thus soils range from sandy to coarse loamy to clay-like. The drainage classes range from excessively drained sands to very poorly drained clays. Soil type is Troup sand with 5-8% slopes. The soils are loamy, kaolinitic, thermic Grossarenic Kandiudults. 
The site is located on the Flint River basin in the Ichawaynochaway watershed region. The Flint River has a watershed size of approximately 14,999 km2 (5791 sq. mi.). Streams in this region are typically very hard and have a basic pH (7.25), likely as a result of passing through the Ocala limestone. They are moderately turbid (15.5 NTU), low in organic and have a moderate load of nutrients. Streams in the Dougherty Plain are intermittent.  
The Southeast Domain is a patchwork of forest, grassland, and wetland communities. The dominant vegetation at the Jones Ecological Research Center consists of longleaf pine trees mixed with some hardwood deciduous (e.g. oak). NEON provides data on the presence and absence of plant species at the site. The five most abundant plant species at the site include: Wiregrass (Aristida beyrichiana), Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), Southern red oak (Quercus falcata), Darlington oak (Quercus hemisphaerica), and Bluejack oak (Quercus incana). 
Animals native to the Southeast region include black bear (Ursus americanus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), bobcat (Lynx rufus), and numerous species of small mammals. The site hosts several game wildlife species such as the northern bobwhite quail as well as many species of conservation interest. There are around 50 endangered, threatened, or species of special concern found at the site. These include the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, fox squirrel, Florida pine snake, and gopher frog.   
Past Land Management and Use
In the 1920s, the property on Ichauway was maintained as a quail hunting reserve owned by Robert Winship Woodruff, a longtime leader of The Coca-Cola Company and an outdoor enthusiast. In 1937, he established the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, an independent foundation devoted to improving quality of life in Georgia. After Woodruff’s death in 1985, the property came under the ownership of the Foundation. In his will, Woodruff expressed his wish that the Ichauway property be maintained as a natural preserve. In 1991, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center was established by the foundation. The Joseph Jones Ecological Research Center has conserved an extensive tract of longleaf pine and wiregrass community. Key research areas include: forest ecology, forest restoration, fire dynamics, and water resources. For the past 75 years, the Jones site has been managed with low intensity, dormant-season prescribed fires at a frequency of every 3-4 years. Previous research at this center has focused on the ecology and management of longleaf pine woodlands and wetland/aquatic resources.   
Current Land Management and Use
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.      
NEON Site Establishment
Approximately 3500 acres of the southwest corner of Ichauway has been designated for NEON. This includes the tower and soil arrays, the aquatic monitoring site along the creek, and multiple field sampling plots. NEON successfully completed the planning and design phases and entered the construction phase in spring 2012. In 2013, construction on the 42 m, 6-level instrumentation tower was complete, and it has been fully operational and streaming data since August 2014. Terrestrial field sampling has been taking place since summer of 2013. The field site transitioned to operations at the beginning of 2015.  
 “The Vascular Flora of Ichauway, Baker County, Georgia: A Remnant Longleaf Pine/Wiregrass Ecosystem.” Castanea, vol. 63, no. 1, 1998, pp. 1–24. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4034053. Accessed 11 May 2020.
 Christensen, N. L. 2013. History landscape change and ecological. Journal of Forest History 33:116–125.
 Flanagan, Steven A., et al. “Quantifying Carbon and Species Dynamics under Different Fire Regimes in a Southeastern U.S. Pineland.” The Ecological Society of America, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 12 June 2019, esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ecs2.2772. https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ecs2.2772
 Goebel, Charles & Palik, Brian & Kirkman, Lelia & Drew, Mark & West, Larry & Pederson, Dee. (2001). Forest Ecosystems of a Lower Gulf Coastal Plain Landscape: Multifactor Classification and Analysis. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 128. 10.2307/3088659.
 Crockett, LeRoy. (2018). NEON Site-Level Plot Summary, Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway (JERC), November 2018. https://data.neonscience.org/documents/10179/2361410/JERC_Soil_SiteSumm…
 Keys Jr, J., Carpenter, C., Hooks, S., Koenig, F., McNab, W. H., Russell, W., & Smith, M. L. (1995). Ecological units of the eastern United States-first approximation (map and booklet of map unit tables). Atlanta, GA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 83.
 Lynch, J. M., Gholson, A. K., & Baker, W. W. (1986). Natural features inventory of Ichauway Plantation, Georgia. Volume I. The Nature Conservancy Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC, 308.
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 03.NEON.DOC.003887vB
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Summary: Domain 03. NEON.DOC.011034vD
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Supporting Data: Domain 03. NEON.DOC.011035vD
 Norden, Heather, and L K. Kirkman. Field Guide to Common Legume Species of the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem. Newton, Ga: Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, 2006. Print Drew, Mark B., et al.
 U.S. Geological Survey, 2005, Mineral Resources Data System: U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/
 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 flux/meteorological tower that is 42 m (138 ft) tall with six measurement levels. The tower top extends above the vegetation canopy to allow sensors mounted at the top and along the tower to capture the full profile of atmospheric conditions from the top of the vegetation canopy to the ground. The tower collects physical and chemical properties of atmosphere-related processes, such as humidity, wind, and net ecosystem gas exchange. Precipitation data are collected by a tipping bucket at the top of the tower and a series of throughfalls located in the soil array.
Soil Sensor Measurements
This site has five soil plots placed in an array within the airshed of the flux tower. Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) at soil surface, soil heat flux, solar radiation, and throughfall are measured at the soil surface in each soil plot. Soil moisture, soil temperature, and CO2 concentration are measured at multiple depths in each soil plot.
At terrestrial sites, field ecologists observe birds and plants, and sample ground beetles, mosquitoes, small mammals, soil microbes, and ticks. Lab analyses are carried out to provide further data on DNA sequences, pathogens, soils, sediments, and biogeochemistry. Learn more about terrestrial observations or explore this site's data products.
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 Wind Direction
Mean Canopy Height
Dominant NLCD Classes
Cultivated Crops, Deciduous Forest, Evergreen Forest, Mixed Forest
Average number of green days
Average first greenness increase date
Average peak green date
Average first greenness decrease date
Average minimum greenness date
Number of Tower Levels
USGS Geology Unit
USGS Geology Name
USGS Lithologic Constituents
Limestone, generally covered with Oligocene and Eocene residuum
USGS Geology Age
Megapit Soil Family
Loamy, kaolinitic, thermic. Arenic Kandiudults.
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