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Native Species of North Fork St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

Due to the geographic location, tidal connectivity through St. Lucie Inlet, and freshwater upper reaches, the preserve is teeming with a unique combination of temperate and tropical species that tolerate a wide salinity range (fresh to estuarine). To date, over 650 native species, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, invertebrates, plants and phytoplankton, have been located and identified within the preserve and adjacent floodplain.

The only known rookery for the endangered (federal and state) wood stork (Mycteria americana) in St. Lucie County is in Mud Cove, within the preserve. It supports wood stork, great egret (Ardea alba), snowy egret (Egretta thula), tricolored heron (E. tricolor) and anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) populations. The rookery and the surrounding mangrove vegetation serve as important roosting habitat for brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), little blue heron (E. caerulea), night heron (Nycticorax spp.), glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) and white ibis (Eudocimus albus). Preserve species that have the potential to affect nesting success in these rookeries include the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), bobcat (Lynx rufus), and raccoon (Procyon lotor). The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is commonly seen nesting in the floodplain and foraging within the preserve.

The West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is often seen in the historic riverbends within the preserve where they occasionally feed on shoreline vegetation and reproduce. At least three species of bats reside within the preserve and are usually seen feeding at dusk. The Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) is the most common species and can be found on the underside of bridges and inside buildings. The Eastern yellow bat (Lasiurus intermedius) is the least common species and is usually found in palm trees. Bats feed on insects, including mosquitoes and agricultural pests, and therefore play a critical role in reducing the need for chemical pesticides near aquatic areas.

The salinity range coupled with the emergent vegetation and red mangroves create productive nursery habitat for commercially important species including:

  • Blue crab.
  • Cinnamon river shrimp.
  • Penaeid shrimp (pink, brown and white).
  • Snapper.
  • Snook (common and three rare species).
  • Tarpon.
  • Mullet.
  • Drum.
  • Sheepshead.
  • Pompano.

 

Basking alligator

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: April 06, 2015

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