The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute's habitat and ecosystem research provides the foundation for developing ecologically and environmentally sound restoration and enhancement practices, materials, and recommendations.
Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration
The Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration (EAR) section monitors coral reefs in the Florida Keys, assesses freshwater plants and conducts upland research to support the development of management practices to protect and improve the quality of habitat and diversity of wildlife on state-managed lands. EAR is responsible for monitoring and investigating harmful algal blooms and also investigates fish and wildlife disease and mortality, monitors mercury levels in freshwater fish and vaccinates panthers against the feline leukemia virus. The FWC's other scientific programs benefit from technical assistance from this section.
Researchers provide information about coral reef communities to managers to ensure the wise use and stewardship of statewide coral reef resources. Staff also work statewide to provide data for managers to make effective decisions regarding preservation, management, and restoration of habitat important to freshwater, marine, and terrestrial species. Staff assist in the evaluation of best management practices in order to protect and improve upland habitat quality and wildlife diversity on state-managed lands.
Harmful Algal Blooms
Researchers in this group study red tide and other harmful algal blooms. They monitor coastal and estuarine algal blooms that adversely affect natural resources (fish kills) or cause a human health risk (shellfish toxicity). They also assess linkages of plankton to animals higher on the food chain.
Fish and Wildlife Health
Researchers monitor, investigate, and assist in the management of fish and wildlife diseases and die-offs and their causative factors. Staff also investigate mercury cycling in the environment and mercury levels in fish. Fish and wildlife forensics and wildlife veterinary research for the agency are conducted as well.