the state of florida

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Ironically, certain efforts at habitat preservation may be detrimental to species such as the Florida scrub jay.  The jay lives in scrubland unique to central Florida (Florida scrub), an arid ecosystem which is dominated by shrubs and small trees and is also known for frequent wildfires.  In the last century, much effort has been put into fighting and extinguishing wildfires, believing that they were decimating the ecosystems.  However, these fires are actually a vital part of the scrubland; without frequent fires to weed out the larger trees and keep the plant and tree numbers down, the scrub becomes dominated by large oak trees.  This makes the area unsuitable for scrubland animals such as the Florida scrub jay.  As a result, preservation of most managed areas of Florida scrub now includes controlled fires.

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Florida scrub jays breed in the spring, the female laying three to four eggs in cup-shaped nests.  While both males and females will help tend and care for the young, the gender roles are strictly divided; females will incubate the eggs and tend the nestlings, while the males guard the territory and gather food for the family.  While adult scrub jays enjoy a very varied diet, nestlings are fed almost exclusively on fat and protein-rich caterpillars.  This is partly why early breeding can be disastrous for scrub jays; if there are no caterpillars for the nestlings, they will starve.