Brooker Creek Preserve-Ecosystem" name=Description />
The headwaters of Brooker Creek lie in a series of cypress domes approximately eight miles east of the Hillsborough/Pinellas county border. The creek system consists of 13 meandering channels, most of which hold flowing water only during the rainy season (May - Oct.). Eventually, all the channels merge into one that outflows into Lake Tarpon. The Brooker Creek floodplain includes all the adjacent bottomland hardwood forests and cypress swamps, which partially rely on the creek for water and hold floodwaters during heavy storms.
Given fire suppression, sandy soils and a long period of time, sandhills will eventually become oak hammock communities. These towering oaks provide ample shade, thereby reducing the number of sun-loving shrubs and ground cover. Wild turkeys and white-tailed deer are often seen foraging for acorns intermixed with the leaf litter.
Dominated by tall longleaf or slash pines, this sunny community is surrounded by a blanket of saw palmetto, native grasses, and the beautiful, but threatened, Catesby’s lily. Once exploited as a natural source of turpentine, longleaf pine communities can be restored through frequent fire. Prescribed burning every 3 to 5 years favors the fire-resistant longleaf pine and encourages wiregrass growth.
Bald cypress, black gum and buttonbush dominate these cool and moist communities. Noted for holding water for long periods of time, swamps are wooded wetlands teeming with life. From frogs to marsh rabbits, squirrels to owls, dragonflies to spiders, the swamp is always a busy place.