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Listed Species in Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

Twenty-eight plant and 65 vertebrate species listed as endangered, threatened, species of special concern, or Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI)�designated, potentially inhabit Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve (MLAP) or surrounding areas. These species may spend some portion of their time in the uplands, beaches, islands, waters or associated wetlands of Mosquito Lagoon.

Florida has more threatened and endangered native species than any state except California and Hawaii. Species such as the state and federally-endangered green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Atlantic saltmarsh snake (Nerodia clarkia taeniata) found within Mosquito Lagoon have been impacted by habitat destruction and alteration, as well as other man made impacts. Loss of seagrass and algal beds affect food supplies for juvenile green sea turtles. In addition to sea turtles foraging in the lagoon, three sea turtle species nest on the adjacent Canaveral National Seashore ocean beaches and surrounding municipal beaches.

The Atlantic saltmarsh snake is listed because extensive drainage and development within the coastal zone has reduced the available habitat of this species. Continued filling of coastal wetlands will further limit the range of this already restricted reptile. There is also a concern that habitat disturbance within these regions may have broken down natural isolating mechanisms between the Atlantic salt marsh snake and the adjacent freshwater snake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris), resulting in hybridization between these species.

Loss of breeding and feeding habitat to urban development of saltmarsh and freshwater wetlands has stressed recovering colonial waterbird species: wood stork (Mycteria americana), little blue heron (Egretta caerulea), reddish egret (Egretta rufescens), snowy egret (Egretta thula) and white ibis (Eudocimus albus). Current recreation on and around islands and shoals in the MLAP and surrounding areas continue to negatively impact waterbird colonies.

The American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a large, conspicuous shorebird with a bright red beak found in coastal salt marshes and sand beaches. One of the few birds to specialize on bivalve mollusks living in saltwater, this species is completely restricted to marine/estuarine habitats. The species feeds mostly by sight, preying upon oysters, clams and mussels but it also probes for marine worms and other food items in the intertidal zone. Although the oystercatcher inhabits coastal areas where human encroachment, habitat loss and destruction are threats, this species adapts well to spoil islands and is often the most common breeder in such locations. American oystercatchers nest on sandy dunes, salt marsh islands and spoil islands, building nests well above the high tide mark. The American oystercatcher is listed as a Species of Special Concern in Florida.


Manatee noses
Photo: NASA

The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) experiences low natural adult mortality, although the species population is impacted by man-made alterations to estuarine and freshwater systems and by fast moving boat traffic in the waters where the species breeds, sleeps and feeds. Mosquito Lagoon serves as a travel corridor and supports a resident population during most seasons. Although survival and reproduction rates are adequate in a small portion of its range, survivability studies indicate a cause for concern for the species population in the Atlantic region of Florida. Declining water clarity and seagrass beds in MLAP are of concern when considering support of the manatee population.






Last updated: April 06, 2015

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