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Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration

The Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration Section is responsible for monitoring and investigating harmful algal blooms such as Florida Red Tide; collecting and analyzing habitat and species data for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats; and surveilling and responding to fish and wildlife disease outbreaks. The section monitors the condition of Florida’s seagrass, coastal wetlands, coral reefs, terrestrial habitats, and freshwater plants, as well as evaluates the effect of management action on these habitats. Research staff provide technical assistance related to harmful algal blooms, fish and wildlife health, and habitat condition to Agency partners, as well as the public; respond to fish and wildlife mortality events, including Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease; study the unknown neurological disorder impacting the endangered Florida panther; and protect local populations from encroaching wildlife diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease in deer.

Caroline Gorga, Section Leader

Staff: 132
FY 2023-2024 budget: $19,474,669

Five people stand in the middle of a salt marsh. Some are taking measurements and some are writing down data.

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Researchers monitor, investigate causes and assist in the management of fish and wildlife diseases and die-offs. Staff members also conduct wildlife veterinary research.


Subsection Leader
Mark W. Cunningham, DVM,

Avian, Herpetological, and Aquatic Health Program
Rebecca Hardman, DVM,

Sport Fish Health Program
Theresa Cody,

Biologists collect and analyze terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine habitat and species data to aid in effective conservation, management and restoration action.


Subsection Leader
Bradley Furman,

Coastal Wetlands Program
Kara Radabaugh,

Coral Program
Rob Ruzicka,

Seagrass Program
Paul Carlson,
Bradley Furman,

Freshwater Plants Program
Craig Mallison,

Terrestrial Habitat Program
Johanna Freeman,

Staff monitor coastal waters for harmful algal blooms (HABs), working closely with other agencies to protect public health, release up-to-date status reports and generate short term forecasts of red tides. Researchers also study the Florida red tide organism and other HAB species to understand the environmental factors that influence blooms.

Subsection Leader
Katherine Hubbard,