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Non-native and Invasive Species of Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

A thorough analysis of invasive exotics has not been done for Terra Ceia, but at least 41 are known to occur in Tampa Bay. The area's proximity to shipping makes it likely that invasive non-native species have been and will continue to be introduced into waters of the preserve through ballast water discharge and hull fouling. Additionally, the urban nature of Tampa Bay makes it likely that aquarium species, like the African cichlids already found in Frog Creek, will be introduced.

Water hyacinth has been especially disruptive clogging channels in low-salinity areas. Several upland and transitional species displace native species, and, in addition to facilitating erosion, worsen submerged habitat for fisheries use. The most problematic of these are Brazilian pepper and Australian pine (Cassurina equisitifolia).

Invasive non-native marine life includes the Asian green mussel (Perna viridis). This species, while prevalent in parts of upper Tampa Bay, still appears to be spreading in Terra Ceia. At present, the green mussel forms dense aggregations on manmade substrates. It is present on natural hardbottom, but it has not become pervasive.

Brazilian pepper

Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius

Two native species are especially problematic in parts of the preserve. Cattail (Typha dominguensis) forms large monospecific stands, to the exclusion of other native species, in disturbed low-salinity areas. Occasional increases in salinity leave large amounts of decaying biomass from the cattails killed by the salt. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a likely cause of nesting failure in some island bird colonies. It is believed that the raccoons swim to the islands where they disturb nesting birds and eat unhatched eggs. Control measures are conducted by the National Audubon Society's Coastal Islands and Sanctuaries program.






Last updated: April 06, 2015

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