McCarty Woods is a 2.9-acre conservation area at the heart of the University of Florida’s central campus. The beautiful, species-diverse woodland is beloved by staff, students, faculty and the public and is one of the last remaining green spaces on the original campus grounds.

Because of its prime real estate on campus, McCarty Woods has been threatened by development. The forest is set aside as a designated conservation area, but the university’s 2020-2030 master plan scaled back its boundaries and zoned a portion of the land for construction.

A campaign in 2021 led by Doug and Pam Soltis, Lucas Majure and Matt Gitzendanner of the Florida Museum of Natural History successfully allayed development plans. They’ve since continued to advocate for the woods and have led monthly volunteer groups that water plants, pick up trash, remove invasive species and plant natives. As a result, McCarty Woods is now healthier than it’s been in decades.

A new collaboration with the American Campus Tree Genomes (ACTG) project takes things further. With its safety currently assured, faculty and staff are working to increase the value of McCarty Woods by sequencing the genomes of five of its iconic trees (the first genomes for these species). Scientists will analyze data from the project to learn more about the natural history of the forest and develop better strategies to ensure its continued conservation.

To learn more about the McCarty Woods Genome Project and to make donations, read the full press release distributed by Hudson Alpha.

Sources: Doug Soltis,;
Pam Soltis,
Media contacts: Jerald Pinson,;
Sarah Sharman,

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