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Native Species of Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

Because of its somewhat subtropical climate Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve (TCAP) supports considerable biodiversity. In addition to 4 species of mangroves and 5 species of seagrasses, over 30 species of algae have been identified. Approximately 300 species of invertebrates and 70 species of fishes have been identified within the preserve.

Approximately 70 species of birds either nest in the preserve or frequent it. Foraging within the habitats of the TCAP and adjacent upland wetland habitats is critical to sustaining the populations of colonial waterbirds that nest on islands within the bay or on the nearby rookery islands. Three colonial waterbird nesting islands occur within the boundaries of TCAP. Several other colonies are within foraging distance. Reddish egrets, the rarest heron in North America, have a population in Florida of only about 400 nesting pairs. Reddish egrets forage only in estuaries, on open mudflats, exposed sand and grass flats. Therefore, the value of the nesting islands with habitat suitable for reddish egret foraging activity within Terra Ceia Bay, and within foraging distance of the Bay, is significant.

Reddish egret

The habitats of the Terra Ceia Bay system are also very important to other bird species. During the winter, the bay is extensively used by winter migrant bird populations and other duck species. Nesting prairie warblers rely on the mangrove forest habitats. Mangrove cuckoos have also been observed in the mangrove forests during the nesting season, and are suspected of nesting. Shorelines of islands, especially along the west side of Miguel Bay and Rattlesnake Key, are important to wintering and migratory shorebirds. Wilson's plovers use these shorelines and salt barrens for nesting in the spring and summer and are residents all year long. In the spring and fall, neotropical migrants and other songbirds use the mangroves and coastal hammock habitats of Terra Ceia Bay and its watershed extensively.






Last updated: April 06, 2015

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