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Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

Research in Wetland Ecology and Management

The Department has several faculty actively engaged in research, teaching, and extension activities focused on wetlands ecology, and the Department has developed a statewide and national reputation for this work. Focal points of departmental research in this area include predicting community dynamics in relation to hydrology, nutrients and other management activities, management and restoration of crocodilians, Everglades restoration, river and lake restoration, coastal zone management, wetland ecotoxicology, endangered wetland species recovery and management, and optimal waterfowl management.

Examples of programs:

  • Ecology and conservation of wading birds (Dr. Peter Frederick). This work focuses on understanding ecology of wading birds and wetland processes both for their own sake and as guides to restoration and conservation activities, with an emphasis on ecological processes that create habitat and anthropogenic factors influencing ecological systems. Specific projects include evaluation of the effects of sublethal contamination with pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals on wading birds, effects of human disturbance on Wood Stork nesting success and breeding behavior in the Brazilian Pantanal, and interactions between wading bird and alligator populations.
  • Processes structuring aquatic ecosystems and fish communities (Dr. Bill Pine). This work focuses on key conservation issues concerning the interface of imperiled species and anthropogenic impacts. Specific projects include evaluation of the role of an introduced apex predator in structuring coastal Atlantic slope rivers, modeling trends in Gulf sturgeon populations in several Florida rivers, habitat use and exploitation patterns of common snook in Sarasota Bay and the Caloosahatchee River, and the influence of flow regimes on endangered Colorado River fishes in the Grand Canyon.
  • Ecosystem structure and wildlife use of wetland habitats (Dr. Wiley Kitchens). This work evaluates factors regulating ecological structure and function in degraded wetland ecosystems using a combination of ecological modeling and empirical techniques, and assesses ecological relationships of wildlife in wetland communities. Specific projects include assessment of the influences of hydrological modification on ecology of deltaic wetlands in the Lower Savannah River, influences of altered hydrology and nutrient loading on vegetative communities in the Everglades, and population biology of the snail kite.