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Native Species of Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

East central Florida consists of diverse ecosystems, including beach dunes, pine flatwoods, estuaries, freshwater and tidal marshes and tidal swamps. These ecosystems provide clean air, drinking water, stable soils, flood protection, recreation and beauty. Surrounding natural upland and marsh communities buffer and contribute to the overall health and biodiversity of the estuarine systems.

The many small animals and insects of the salt marsh support the larger migrant and resident species. Among the most important species in the food chain is the fiddler crab. The presence of hundreds of fiddler crabs in colonies is an indication of a healthy ecosystem. Fiddler crabs are keystone species. They not only prosper in a marsh system that is healthy, they provide many services. Their burrows aerate the soil freeing nutrients, they break up algae carpeting the surface and bury organic matter that fertilizes the soils. They are important prey items for fish, birds, raccoons and other animals. They can also serve as an indicator species of the detrimental effects of insecticides.

A commercially important invertebrate found in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is the blue crab. Blue crabs are considered estuary dependent because they reproduce there. Blue crabs migrate within the estuary and use different regions depending on season and salinity level.

Important game fish species include red drum, spotted sea trout, snook and ladyfish. Mosquito Lagoon is touted as a world famous red drum fishing habitat by recreational fishermen. Red drum inhabit estuarine, nearshore and offshore waters, depending on age and size. Typically, juveniles utilize estuaries as nursery grounds for several years until they attain 30 inches in length. They then migrate to nearshore and offshore coastal waters to join spawning adults. Mosquito Lagoon and other parts of the IRL are exceptions to the migratory rule, potentially due to higher salinity levels or behavioral adaptations.

Jumping dolphin

There is a resident population of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in Mosquito Lagoon.
Photo: NASA






Last updated: April 06, 2015

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