Florida’s landscape supports upwards of 50,000 square miles of diverse natural areas including forests, flatwoods, prairies, swamps, marshes, and waterways. It has more than 7,700 named lakes greater than 20 acres in area, and countless ponds of up to 20 acres. It has 1,700 rivers and streams, and more than 600 clear-water springs. It has a 1,300-mile shoreline of beaches, tidal marshes, swamps, and estuaries, and its offshore seafloors hold seagrass beds and coral reefs.
In this series of three volumes, Florida’s natural upland, wetland, and aquatic systems are treated separately, but all three share many characteristics. They occur naturally on the landscape in mosaic-like patterns, as shown in the photograph opposite. There are upland areas (such as the pine-palmetto hammocks in the photo), wetland areas (such as the extensive marshes within which the hammocks stand), and aquatic areas (notably the stream that meanders across the landscape and the estuary into which it flows). This book’s focus is on the uplands—terraces, plains, and divides between aquatic systems. Uplands are not necessarily high in elevation: many upland regions occur in the coastal lowlands.