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 about freshwater, marine and upland habitats; and monitoring for, and responding to, fish and wildlife disease outbreaks. This section assesses seagrass, oyster reefs and coastal wetlands statewide; monitors coral reefs; and conducts freshwater plant and upland research to support habitat management actions. Researchers respond to fish and wildlife mortality events and Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, study the unknown neurological disorder impacting the endangered Florida panther, conduct surveillance for wildlife diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, and provide technical assistance to research and management partners.


Leanne Flewelling,
Section Administrator

Annual Budget: $14,339,732
Staff: 115

Highlights on Current Research

  • Coral Rescue and AZA Support

    This project by FWRI’s Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration Program was designed to “rescue” healthy corals ahead of the SCTLD boundary and place them in aquariums and research facilities to prevent them from becoming infected, to preserve genetic diversity, and to serve as source stock for propagation for future restoration activities.

  • Plant Pollinator Networks in Fire-Maintained Sandhills

    The main goal of this project by FWRI’s Ecosystem Assessment and Monitoring team is to fill major data gaps on pollinator species diversity, plant/pollinator network structure, and pollinator habitat conservation in fire-maintained longleaf pine sandhills.

  • St. Joe Bay Restoration

    This project, led by FWRI’s Habitat Assessment and Restoration team is attempting to jump start natural recovery of seagrass in St Joe Bay to offset losses caused by sea urchin grazing. The project, which will run through mid-2022, is installing up to 12 exclosures over grazed area to allow seagrasses to grow without sea urchin grazing pressure FWRI scientists will also enlist the help of boaters in a “Sea Urchin Roundup” to relocate sea urchins to deeper areas in the bay where no seagrass is present.