Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Gil McRae, Director
100 Eighth Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5020

The work done by the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) reaches far beyond the confines of the FWC. Research conducted on habitats, freshwater and marine fisheries, harvested and imperiled species and other important plant and wildlife communities in Florida is used by federal, state and local governments, universities, recreational and commercial fishing interests, recreational hunting and boating interests, nongovernmental organizations and the public. FWRI integrates its research activities with management efforts of other FWC divisions.


Through effective research and technical knowledge, FWRI provides timely information and guidance to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s fish and wildlife resources.


  • Monitors and provides information on the status of terrestrial, aquatic and coastal habitats; freshwater and marine fisheries; harvested species; imperiled species; and important plant and animal communities in Florida.
  • Develops and implements restoration techniques for enhancement of terrestrial, freshwater and coastal habitats and wildlife communities..
  • Responds to and provides technical support for catastrophes, including oil spills, ship groundings, die-offs, major chemical spills and natural disasters.
  • Provides cause-of-death determination on manatees, bears, panthers, sea turtles and other animals, and screens for wildlife diseases such as avian influenza and chronic wasting disease.
  • Identifies and monitors red tides and other harmful algal blooms, providing both technical support and advisories.
  • Provides science-based biological and economic assessments of fish and wildlife resources, as well as decision support, to the Commission and others responsible for managing or regulating activities that depend on Florida’s unique and diverse
    natural resources.
  • Encourages community members to act as citizen scientists by creating opportunities to report, share and submit information.
  • Receives external grants representing over 40 percent of the institute’s funding

Fish and Wildlife Research Institute sections

Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration

This section monitors coral reefs; assesses seagrass populations and coastal wetlands; evaluates maps of freshwater plants; and conducts upland research to support development of management practices to protect and improve the quality of habitat and diversity of wildlife on state-managed lands. Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration is responsible for monitoring and investigating harmful algal blooms, such as Florida red tide. This section also conducts surveillance for fish and wildlife diseases; investigates disease and mortality events; and evaluates the health of endangered panthers. The FWC’s other scientific programs benefit from technical assistance from this section. 

Freshwater Fisheries Research

To ensure the health and sustainability of Florida’s aquatic resources, the Freshwater Fisheries Research section collects and objectively analyzes fish, fishery, invertebrate and habitat data and provides results to those in federal, state and local governments who make decisions that affect Florida’s freshwater resources.

Information Science and Management

The Information Science and Management section produces, analyzes, manages and distributes scientific data and information that is used to aid in the conservation of fish and wildlife. This section employs techniques that include ensuring the statistical validity of FWRI research, electronic sharing, delivery of research findings, and computer mapping of habitats and species ranges. Staff also maintains an extensive collection of fish and invertebrate specimens and provides data-management services and scientific library services. The outreach office collaborates agency-wide to promote and protect the Institute’s reputation of excellence by creating communications strategies that enhance the understanding of the research. 

Marine Fisheries Research

To assess and predict marine fishery population trends, the Marine Fisheries Research section collects and integrates biological and harvest information from commercial and recreational marine fisheries and invertebrate species. This section plays a major role in the Florida Marine Fisheries Enhancement Initiative – the FWC’s cooperative effort to expand marine stock enhancement statewide. This section also provides nearly all biological information, expert assessments and analyses used by the FWC, interstate commissions and federal councils charged with managing Florida’s marine fisheries resources. 

Research Operations

The Research Operations section consists of small work groups that support scientific activities of the FWRI. Facilities management staff oversees maintenance of all FWRI facilities and equipment. The Budget Office, administered by Research Operations, carries out financial operations and coordinates grants, which support much of the FWRI’s research activities.

Wildlife Research

Responsibility for acquiring and distributing biological and ecological information critical for the science-based management, conservation, restoration and wise use of Florida’s wildlife resources comes under the Wildlife Research section. This section provides information on best management practices for conserving these resources to federal, state and local managers and the public.

FWRI budget summary

Funding Source FTE FTE salaries Other costs
GR   $0 $1,907,336
FGTF   $5,216,736 $8,212,000
FPRMTF   $225,019 $158,481
GDTF   $0 $10,410,652
LATF   $176,142 $89,097
MRCTF   $10,290,426 $12,404,516
NWTF   $1,140,216 $1,691,211
STMTF   $1,032,920 $1,413,206
SGTF   $3,211,724 $1,652,461
Total operating   $21,293,183 $37,938,960
FWRI Roof Replacement   $0 $281,500
FL Conservation and Tech Center   $0 $1,000,000
Lowry Park Zoo   $0 $1,000,000
Parker Manatee Aquarium    $0 $250,000
Total budget 338.0 $21,293,183 $40,470,460

FWC Facts:
The North American Amphibian Monitoring Program is an international effort of the U.S. Geological Survey to track changes in frog populations over time.

Learn More at AskFWC