Skip to main content

Habitat Research

diver underwater in coral bed

Biologists with FWRI's Habitat Research program collect and analyze freshwater, marine and upland habitat and species data to aid in effective preservation, management and restoration decision-making.

Coastal Wetlands

Coastal wetlands in Florida include mangrove forests and salt marshes. These ecosystems provide essential habitats for a large number of fish, crustaceans, and coastal birds. This habitat research program focuses primarily on assessment and monitoring of Florida's coastal wetlands.

mangroves and waterway

Coral Reefs

Our primary concern is the conservation of Florida's coral habitats, which range from the Dry Tortugas National Park, approximately 60 miles west of Key West, to Martin County, approximately 100 miles north of Miami and up the gulf coast of Florida. These extremely diverse habitats provide shelter, food, and breeding sites for a wide variety of commercially and aesthetically important organisms.

multiple coral species underwater

Freshwater Plants

Aquatic plants provide important environmental benefits for Florida’s freshwater ecosystems. FWRI’s Freshwater Plants team conducts research on lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands to address priority aquatic plant issues. Results from this research are used to develop improved management strategies on freshwater systems across the state.

water body with freshwater plants


Seagrass meadows in Florida encompass a staggering 2.7 million acres, the largest continuous expanse in the nation. They rank as the third most valuable ecosystem in the world and are as vital as they are vast, providing a diverse habitat for countless marine species and playing an essential role in our state's environmental wellbeing. Please explore our site to learn more about the fascinating world of seagrasses, the challenges they face, and why their protection is so crucial for Florida and the world beyond. 

Underwater view of manatee grass.

Terrestrial Habitat

Terrestrial Habitat researchers study the ecology and management of Florida’s forest, savanna, and ephemeral wetland ecosystems, which are essential to wildlife and biodiversity conservation.  Fire features prominently in nearly everything we do, as many of Florida’s most diverse terrestrial ecosystems are fire-dependent. Our work falls into two broad categories: restoration ecology and fire ecology.

trees and dark gray clouds