Southwest Florida is under extreme human development pressure. With less natural habitat available in this
region, many federal and state imperiled species rely on
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) as critical habitat for their survival.
RBNERR provides important habitats for many species listed as endangered, threatened or species
of special concern by the federal government and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. These
species may use RBNERR as permanent habitat (e.g., gopher tortoise, Florida manatee, small-tooth sawfish,
indigo snake within the scrub habitat), nesting sites (e.g., Atlantic loggerhead turtle, least tern, American
crocodile), wading bird colonies (e.g. wood stork), migratory habitat or over-wintering sites (e.g., red
knot), or as travel corridors (e.g., Florida panther, West Indian manatee) which may lead to future
permanent residence. Confirmed sightings of the Florida panther within the boundaries of the reserve are
increasing as local populations appear to be in recovery.
Least tern and chick