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 are ecosystems that contain mangrove forests and salt marshes. They provide essential habitats for various species of fish, crustaceans and coastal birds. This division of habitat research focuses primarily on assessment and management of Florida's coastal wetland habitats.

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


Florida’s seagrass beds are vital marine ecosystems, providing food, habitat and nursery areas for numerous species, shellfish, manatees and sea turtles. Research staff provides resource managers with data necessary to make effective decisions about the preservation, management and restoration of seagrass communities.

underwater view of a seagrass bed

Upland Habitats

Upland 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.

butterfly on flower