Now Open on Level 1
This hands-on exhibit hall celebrates the richness of the natural world, with a special focus on the diverse ecosystems of Central Florida. Visitors discover the insects, plants and animals of coral reefs, salt marshes, mangrove swamps and other Florida environments. They learn how living and non-living things interact with each other and their environment.
The dramatic centerpiece of NatureWorks is Florida’s Habitats, a glimpse into the natural world of Central Florida. In this realistic exhibit area, visitors explore the distinctive environments of Sand Pine Scrub, Cypress Swamp, Pine Flatwoods and Sinkhole Lake. There are also ample opportunities for guests to encounter live animals during regularly scheduled presentations.
- Observe a typical cypress swamp, complete with live alligators
- See how sea turtles make their nest at the sandy beach
- Discover the intricate system of roots at the mangrove swamp
- Watch how bees build their hive, care for young and gather nectar at the BeeHive Encounter
12 May 2011
Posted in NatureWorks
National Geographic reports that exotic plants may make your yard look beautiful but in the long run they will cause harm to our ecosystems. Dr. Doug Tallamy an entomologist (insect expert) at the University of Delaware explains why having only plants native to your area is so important.
Ever since non-native people started to arrive on America's shores, they've carried along with them trees, flowers, and vegetables from other places. Now there are so many of those outside plant species that they are crowding out the native plants that have lived here since before settlers arrived. This may not seem like too much of an issue until you consider the fact that the type of plants has an impact on other living things in the environment, like insects and animals.
Think of it as a web, which starts with the plants, goes to the insects, and ends with birds. Almost all the plant-eating insects in the United States—90% of them—are specialized, which means they eat only certain plants. When those certain plants aren’t available for the bugs to eat anymore the insects die off. In turn, insects are the food source of birds and when the insect population drops so does the bird population.
Dr. Tallamy points out that, "we cannot let the plants and animals around us disappear," and, "the way to preserve them is to give them food to eat. But when we plant non-native plants, we are clobbering the food web, because then we don't have the insects the birds need to live."
What can you do to help this situation? It’s simple! "Just Google 'native plants' and your location, and you can find out which plants really belong where you live," says Tallamy. He also suggests getting your children involved with the planting process or even having them, “adopt a bird species in trouble and see if [they] can't plant some things that will attract the insects they need."
Photo Above: Milkweed is a flower native to Central Florida. Monarch butterfly caterpillars dine on Milkweed. A small milkweed patch planted in Spring can produce beautiful Monarch butterflies in the Summer!