Historical Timeline

Learn how the Wildlife Research Laboratory has changed since the 1960s.

Wildlife Research Laboratory Historical Timeline

1960s: The original staff, three biologists and several field technicians, initially focused their research on Florida game species such as deer, turkeys and waterfowl.

  • 1964: Lovett Williams, regional wildlife biologist in Lake City, and Dale Crider, waterfowl biologist in West Palm Beach, establish the Wildlife Research Project within the then Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission (GFC) Game Management Division. Work begins at several rented offices in Gainesville. 
  • 1969: Lovett Williams becomes the first WRL supervisor.

1970s: New staff is added to investigate the impact of the Cross Florida Barge Canal and to conduct research on sandhill cranes, crocodiles, fur-bearing mammals, feral hogs, waterfowl and alligators. The permanent wildlife research headquarters is established.

  • 1972: The GFC sub-leases a 9.4-acre tract of land from the Florida Department of Natural Resources (now the Florida Department of Environmental Protection) on the northern edge of Paynes Prairies State Preserve (site of current facility).
  • 1974: Staff and equipment move to this location (1105 Southwest Williston Road) and the WRL becomes a functioning facility. The compound consists of four small, single-wide trailers and a few storage sheds.
  • 1976: Construction begins on a permanent building, with financial assistance from the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration.
  • 1977: The original WRL building is completed in the early part of the year. The GFC Game Management Division becomes the Division of Wildlife, consisting of the Bureau of Wildlife Research and Bureau of Wildlife Resources.

1980s: Research expands to include seaside sparrows, snail kites, brown pelicans, gopher tortoises, panthers and black bears. West wing annex is added to WRL.

  • 1980: Tommy Hines becomes WRL supervisor.
  • 1987: Jim Brady becomes WRL supervisor.
  • 1988: An annex known as the west win” is added to provide offices for new staff, as research of nongame species expands to include numerous species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.

1990s: Whooping crane reintroduction project begins and staff expands panther and alligator research. Research entities undergo realignment and renaming.

  • 1997: The Bureau of Wildlife Research merges with the Nongame Wildlife Section; WRL employees begin working within the Bureau of Wildlife Diversity Conservation or Bureau of Wildlife Resources.
  • 1999: The GFC is merged into the newly formed Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

2000s: WRL staff increases research effort on black bears, deer and upland habitat restoration. Research programs redesignated into Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI).

  • 2004: All divisions of the FWC reorganize and most WRL employees are assigned to one of the following FWRI sections: Wildlife Research, Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration, or Information Sciences and Management. Paul Moler becomes WRL supervisor.
  • 2006: Jim Rodgers becomes WRL supervisor.

2010s: Staff expands research on shorebirds, marshbirds and freshwater turtles. New office space is constructed on WRL grounds.

  • 2011: A modular office building is added on the south grounds to accommodate further staff increases made possible by research grant funding.
  • 2013: The Wildlife Research Section Leader position is moved from Tallahassee to Gainesville. Robin Boughton becomes the section leader and the WRL supervisor
  • 2014: The Board of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission establishes the Lovett E. Williams Jr. Wildlife Research Lab at 1105 SW Williston Road, Gainesville, in honor of William’s contributions to the Commission during his 24 years with the Commission.


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