About Field Sites
Ordway-Swisher Biological Station (OSBS) is a terrestrial NEON field site located in Putman County, Florida about 20 miles east of Gainesville. It is located within the Ordway Swisher Biological Station (OSBS), a 38.5 km2 (9500 acre) property owned and managed by the University of Florida as a biological research center. The OSBS site is managed to maintain intact longleaf pine ecosystem, one of the historically dominant forest types in the region. 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 Domain features 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 three aquatic and two additional terrestrial sites, located in Florida and Georgia. OSBS is colocated with two aquatic field sites, Barco Lake (BARC) and Suggs Lake (SUGG). 
North-central Florida’s climate is humid subtropical. Summers at OSBS are generally hot and humid, with average summer highs around 32°C (89°F) and lows averaging around 21°C (70°F). Winters are drier and mild, with highs around 19°C (67°F) and lows near 4°C (40°F). The average annual temperature at OSBS is 20.9° (70°F). Average annual precipitation is about 1302 mm (51 in.). Rainfall occurs year-round, but is heaviest June through September. In summer months, afternoon and evening thunderstorms bring most of the rain. Winter rainfall is not as intense as the summer storms. Annual precipitation patterns at the site are highly variable and periods of below average precipitation (drought) are not uncommon. Both hurricane landfall and severe droughts occur about every 15 years on average, with the latter often leading to severe wildfire conditions. Hurricane Irma had major impacts on the site in September 2011, including over 305 mm (12 in.) of rain across a 24-hour period and sustained winds in the 18-24 mph range with frequent gusts ranging 30-51 mph.   
The Ordway Preserve is located in the Northern Highlands portion of Putnam County, where it sits atop roughly 4000 feet of limestone, dolomite, and anhydrite formations. The Miocene-aged Hawthorn Group is overlain by the Cypresshead Formation, which was laid down during the Pliocene and consists of sand, mud, and clay. Above the Cypresshead Formation, belonging to the recent age, are the quartz sands recognizable as the soil of Ordway. They have many karst features and are often described as belonging to the Anastasia Formation. 
The NEON-commissioned soil megapit revealed Entisol-order soils that are uncoated, Typic Quartzipsamments. Soils at OSBS are primarily well-drained and sandy, but low-lying areas near lakes and swamps can have relatively deep layers of organic soils.  
The Ordway Preserve is dotted with numerous sinkhole lakes. Some lakes fill via overland flow and surface water, while others are connected to ground water. The result is many highly diverse dark water lakes, contrasted with the less diverse clear groundwater lakes. The site experiences significant rainfall during the rainy season, contributing greatly to the water level of the clear water sites. The dark water lakes have a connected flow from the southwest corner of the site to the northeast. Much of the water ends up in the Mill Creek Swamp and Ashley and Harry Prairies. 
Ordway-Swisher is dominated by pine and turkey oak (Quercus laevis) vegetation with a grass and forb groundcover. Pines are primarily Longleaf Pines (Pinus palustris Mill.) and Lobolly (P. taeda), and the dominant perennial grass is wiregrass (Aristida stricta Michx.). Numerous species of other perennial grasses and forbs are also present. 
OSBS is home to a large number of animal species. Common fauna at OSBS include wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Sherman Fox squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani), black bear (Ursus americanus), and black racers (Coluber constrictor). Other species common to xeric sites include Florida mouse (Podomys floridanus), gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), and the gopher frog (Lithobates capito). 
Past Land Management and Use
The Ordway-Swisher Biological Field Station (OSBS) owes its origins to the contributions of land by the Swisher family in honor of Carl Swisher and a land purchase made in honor of Katharine Ordway by the Goodhill Foundation. The site was a former Nature Conservancy property, until ownership was transferred in 2006 to the University of Florida Foundation. Prior to this land acquisition, ownership changed hands through families that farmed and fished the land. Many of the lakes present on site, including NEON study sites Barco and Suggs Lakes, were named for families with farms present in the late 1800s. Remnant orange trees around Lake Suggs serve as a reminder of those early families. Similarly, remnants of turpentine production from the early 1900s litter OSBS. Clay pot fragments and tree stills are present in some of our NEON plots and left in place as cultural artifacts.  
Current Land Management and Use
The Ordway Preserve is operated and managed to protect the natural communities within and to provide opportunities for scientific research and educational outreach primarily to users from University of Florida, but also to the greater scientific community. The site is closed to the public in order to protect the integrity of the preserve as well as the ongoing research taking place. Many of those ecosystems at OSBS are pyrogenic, and so most of the management onsite is in the form of controlled burns. Different parts of the site are managed on a variety of burn schedules. In some areas where woody species encroachment is high due to natural fire suppression, management also includes mechanical and chemical methods. Mechanical harvest of groundcover seeds occurs in some areas as part of a cooperative agreement with the St. Johns Water Management Agreement. These activities do not occur within NEON plots. 
NEON Site Establishment
Domain 03 has three terrestrial sites chosen to represent a latitudinal gradient within this ecoclimactic Domain. OSBS is at the center of that gradient. Early site characterization at OSBS began in 2012 and was completed May 2014. Initial plot establishment was completed November 2014. A second round of plot establishment was completed March 2020 to rectify flooded plots that became unsuitable for terrestrial sampling protocols after Hurricane Irma in 2017. Preliminary data collection at OSBS began in 2013 for most systems, with the final few aquatic instruments streaming data in August 2017.
 2020, May 14. Cultural Resources. University of Florida IFAS Ordway-Swisher Biological Station. https://ordway-swisher.ufl.edu/CulturalResources.aspx.
 Livingston, Stephanie. 2014, August 14. 9,700 acres tell stories of Florida’s past. Florida Museum News & Blogs. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/science/9700-acres-tell-stories-of-fl….
 PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, http://prism.oregonstate.edu, created 4 Feb 2004
 University of Florida IFAS Ordway-swisher Biological Station. 2020. About. Retrieved from https://ordway-swisher.ufl.edu/About.aspx.
 Krauss, R. 2018. TOS Site Characterization: Domain 03. NEON Doc. #: NEON.DOC.003887
 2020, May 18. Ecological Resources. University of Florida IFAS Ordway-Swisher Biological Station. https://ordway-swisher.ufl.edu/Soils.aspx
 Chen, E., and Gerber, JF 1990. Climate. In Ecosystems of Florida. pp. 11-34. R. Myers and J. Ewel, eds. University of Central Florida Press, Orlando, FL
 Data from: https://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/data/reports/
 FNAI - Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida: 2010 Edition Accessed on June 1, 2020 from: https://www.fnai.org/PDF/NC/Sandhill_Final_2010.pdf
 University of Florida Herbarium (FLAS). Accessed on June 1, 2020 from: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/herbarium/
 Readle, E.L. 1990. Soil survey of Putnam county area, Florida. USDA, SCS. Pp 224.
 Hydrology. Accessed on June 1, 2020 from https://ordway-swisher.ufl.edu/Hydrology.aspx.
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 35 m (115 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, a Double Fence Intercomparison Reference (DFIR) near 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
University of Florida Foundation
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
NEON Field Operations Address
4579 NW 6th Street, Unit B-2
Gainsville, FL 32609
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant Wind Direction
Mean Canopy Height
Dominant NLCD Classes
Emergent Herbaceous Wetlands, Evergreen Forest, Woody Wetlands
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
Reddish-brown to reddish-orange sands with clay, occasional quartz pebbles and mica. Crossbedding is common.
USGS Geology Age
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