Coastal Wetlands Research
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.
Salt marshes are coastal ecosystems that occur in the intertidal zone of estuaries, bays, and other low-energy coastal environments. Salt marshes are dominated by salt-tolerant grasses, rushes, and succulent plants and provide important ecosystem services to fish, wildlife, and coastal human populations.
Mangroves are an important coastal habitat in peninsular Florida that incorporate characteristics of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They provide food and habitat for a large number of commercially and recreationally important fish and invertebrate species. Mangroves also help mitigate the impacts of storms and floods in developed coastal areas. Climate change and associated sea-level rise stand to alter these important ecosystems, yet the potential response in Florida mangroves is poorly understood.
The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is the only reef-building oyster in Florida and forms both subtidal and intertidal reefs. These oyster reefs lessen shoreline erosion and provide habitat or a food source for a wide variety of birds, fish, and invertebrates. As filter feeders, oysters also improve water quality and clarity. The eastern oyster is the most abundant oyster in the state and is important as both a keystone species and an ecosystem engineer.
View publications from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute coastal wetlands research group.
Coastal Wetlands Research Internship
The Coastal Wetlands Research Program is seeking detail-oriented interns and volunteers to assist with general laboratory duties in its St. Petersburg headquarters. College students and recent graduates with an interest in marine science or a related field may apply for this internship opportunity.