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Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

The work done by the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute 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 valuable 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, social 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.
  • Uses social science methods to describe, understand, predict and affect human attitudes and behaviors toward the natural environment. Encourages community members to act as citizen scientists by creating opportunities to report, share and submit information.
  • Applies for and receives external grants representing over 40% of the Institute’s funding to increase resources for critical research projects.


Center for Conservation Social Science Research
The Center is responsible for conducting social science research geared towards better understanding human attitudes and behaviors towards the natural environment and informed decision-making. It has a twofold mission. First, a core group of social scientists provides consulting services for FWC programs – this includes advisement and consultation for biologists and other FWC staff on the development and implementation of social science inquiry. Second, the staff affiliated with the center support the development and integration of social science within broader FWC programs. Staff conduct training on qualitative and quantitative social science methods, science communication, and stakeholder outreach and education.

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. Researchers also maintain an extensive collection of fish and invertebrate specimens and provide data-management services and scientific library services.

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. Administrative Services carries out financial operations and coordinates grants, which support much of the FWRI’s research activities. The Communications Office collaborates agency-wide to promote and protect FWRI’s reputation of excellence by creating strategic communications that enhance the understanding and value of scientific research.

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