Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 1278–1292 | Cite as

Estuarine Biotope Mosaics and Habitat Management Goals: An Application in Tampa Bay, FL, USA

  • Giancarlo Cicchetti
  • Holly Greening


Many types of anthropogenic stress to estuaries lead to destruction and conversion of habitats, thus altering habitat landscapes and changing the “arena” in which the life history interactions of native fauna take place. This can lead to decreased populations of valued fauna and other negative consequences. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) pioneered a system-wide management framework that develops estuarine habitat restoration and protection goals based on supporting estuarine-dependent species and the habitat landscapes they require (for example, the extent of seagrass beds, mangrove forests, oyster reefs, or oligohaline marshes) within an estuary. We describe this framework and provide related statistics as methods to help managers set system-wide ecological goals using larger conceptual approaches that are easily communicated to stakeholders and the public; we also discuss applications of the approach to existing and evolving paradigms of estuarine management. The TBEP and partners used this framework to combine a simple and unifying vision with a diverse and complex set of management tools, resulting in greatly improved environmental conditions within Tampa Bay.


Tampa Bay Habitat Biotope Mosaic Landscape Resource-based management 



We acknowledge the contributions of the many people who have worked to develop these concepts. We are deeply indebted to many people in the Tampa Bay science and management community, especially Robin Lewis and Doug Robison. Margherita Pryor and Susan Jackson of the US EPA have been instrumental in moving these approaches forward. We also thank Marc Russell of the US EPA Gulf Ecology Division for his contributions. Tim Gleason and Marty Chintala also provided important support. Helpful reviews of this manuscript were conducted by Glen Thursby, Jim Latimer, and Rick McKinney.


This is contribution number AED-10-060 of the US EPA, Atlantic Ecology Division. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. Although the research described in this article has been partially funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency, it has not been subjected to agency-level review. Therefore, it does not necessarily reflect the views of the agency.


  1. Anthony, A., J. Atwood, P. August, C. Byron, S. Cobb, C. Foster, C. Fry, A. Gold, K. Hagos, L. Heffner, D.Q. Kellogg, K. Lellis-Dibble, J.J. Opaluch, C. Oviatt, A. Pfeiffer-Herbert, N. Rohr, L. Smith, T. Smythe, J. Swift, and N. Vinhateiro. 2009. Coastal lagoons and climate change: ecological and social ramifications in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coast ecosystems. Ecology and Science 14:8 [online] URL: Scholar
  2. Ayvazian, S.G., L.A. Deegan, and J.T. Finn. 1992. Comparison of habitat use by estuarine fish assemblages in the Acadian and Virginian zoogeographic provinces. Estuaries 15: 368–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, M.W., K.L. Heck Jr., K.W. Able, D.L. Childers, D.B. Eggleston, B.M. Gillanders, B. Halpern, C.G. Hays, K. Hoshino, T.J. Minello, R.J. Orth, P.F. Sheridan, and M.P. Weinstein. 2001. The identification, conservation, and management of estuarine and marine nurseries for fish and invertebrates. Bioscience 51: 633–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bloom, S.A. 1981. Similarity indices in community studies: Potential pitfalls. Marine Ecology Progress Series 5: 125–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Borja, A., D.M. Dauer, M. Elliott, and C.A. Simenstad. 2010. Medium- and long-term recovery of estuarine and coastal ecosystems: Patterns, rates, and restoration effectiveness. Estuaries and Coasts 33: 1249–1260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brush, G. 2009. Historical land use, nitrogen, and coastal eutrophication: A paleoecological perspective. Estuaries and Coasts 32: 18–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cloern, J.E. 2001. Our evolving conceptual model of the coastal eutrophication problem. Marine Ecology Progress Series 210: 223–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davies, S.P., and S.K. Jackson. 2006. The biological condition gradient: A descriptive model for interpreting change in aquatic ecosystems. Ecological Applications 16: 1251–1266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davies, C.E., D. Moss, and M.O. Hill. 2004. EUNIS habitat classification revised 2004. Report to European Environment Agency, European Topic Center on Nature Protection and Biodiversity.Google Scholar
  10. Duarte, C.M. 2009. Coastal eutrophication research: A new awareness. Hydrobiologia 629: 263–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Duarte, C.M., D.J. Conley, J. Carstensen, and M. Sanchez-Camacho. 2009. Return to Neverland: Shifting baselines affect eutrophication restoration targets. Estuaries and Coasts 32: 29–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gibbs, D., A. While, and A.E.G. Jonas. 2007. Governing nature conservation: the European Union Habitats Directive and conflict around estuary management. Environment and Planning 39: 339–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greening, H., and A. Janicki. 2006. Toward reversal of eutrophic conditions in a subtropical estuary: Water quality and seagrass response to nitrogen loading reductions in Tampa Bay, Florida, USA. Environmental Management 38: 163–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Heck, K.L., G. Hays, and R.J. Orth. 2003. Critical evaluation of the nursery role hypothesis for seagrass meadows. Marine Ecology Progress Series 253: 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Johansson, J.O.R. 1991. Long-term trends in nitrogen loading, water quality and biological indicators in Hillsborough Bay, Florida. In Proceedings of the Tampa Bay area scientific information symposium 2, ed. S.F. Treat and P.A. Clark, 157–176. St. Petersburg: Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.Google Scholar
  16. Leslie, H.M., and K.L. McLeod. 2007. Confronting the challenges of implementing ecosystem-based management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5: 540–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levin, S.A. 2005. Self-organization and the emergence of complexity in ecological systems. Bioscience 55: 1075–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lewis, R.R., III and E.D. Estevez. 1988. The ecology of Tampa Bay, Florida: An estuarine profile. Biol. Report 85(7.18). United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  19. Lewis, R.R., and D. Robison. 1995. Setting priorities for Tampa Bay habitat protection and restoration: restoring the balance. Technical Publication #09-95 of the Tampa Bay National Estuary Program.Google Scholar
  20. Lotze, H.K., H.S. Lenihan, B.J. Bourque, R.H. Bradbury, R.G. Cooke, M.C. Kay, S.M. Kidwell, M.X. Kirby, C.H. Peterson, and J.B.C. Jackson. 2006. Depletion, degradation, and recovery potential of estuaries and coastal seas. Science 312: 1806–1809.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. FGDC. 2011. Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS). Federal Geographic Data Committee document, in revision. [online] URL:
  22. Micheli, F., and C.H. Peterson. 1999. Estuarine vegetated habitats as corridors for predator movements. Conservation Biology 13: 869–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Minello, T.J., K.W. Able, M.P. Weinstein, and C.G. Hays. 2003. Salt marshes as nurseries for nekton: Testing hypotheses on density, growth and survival through meta-analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 246: 39–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Odum, E.P. 1971. Fundamentals of ecology. Philadelphia: Saunders.Google Scholar
  25. Palmer, M.A. 2009. Reforming watershed restoration: Science in need of application and applications in need of science. Estuaries and Coasts 32: 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. PBS&J, Inc. 2009. Tampa Bay Estuary Program Habitat Master Plan Update, 2009. Technical Report #06-09 of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.Google Scholar
  27. Peterson, G.W., and R.E. Turner. 1994. The value of salt marsh edge vs interior as a habitat for fish and decapod crustaceans in a Louisiana tidal marsh. Estuaries 17: 235–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peterson, M.S., B.H. Comyns, J.R. Hendon, P.J. Bond, and G.A. Duff. 2000. Habitat use by early life-history stages of fishes and crustaceans along a changing estuarine landscape: Differences between natural and altered shoreline sites. Wetlands Ecology and Management 8: 209–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pew Oceans Commission. 2003. America’s living oceans: Charting a course for sea change. A report to the nation, May 2003. Arlington: Pew Oceans Commission.Google Scholar
  30. Rountree, R.A., and K.W. Able. 2007. Spatial and temporal habitat use patterns for salt marsh nekton: Implications for ecological functions. Aquatic Ecology 41: 25–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rozas, L.P., and T.J. Minello. 1998. Nekton use of salt marsh, seagrass, and nonvegetated habitats in a South Texas (USA) estuary. Bulletin of Marine Science 63: 481–501.Google Scholar
  32. Rosenberg, A.A., and K.L. McLeod. 2005. Implementing ecosystem-based approaches to management for the conservation of ecosystem services. Marine Ecology Progress Series 300: 270–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Simenstad, C.A., S.B. Brandt, A. Chalmers, R. Dame, L.A. Deegan, R. Hodson, and E.D. Houde. 2000a. Habitat–biotic interactions. Chapter 16. In Estuarine science, a synthetic approach to research and practice, ed. J.E. Hobbie. Washington: Island.Google Scholar
  34. Simenstad, C.A., W.G. Hood, R.M. Thom, D.A. Levy, and D.L. Bottom. 2000b. Landscape structure and scale constraints on restoring estuarine wetlands for Pacific Coast juvenile fishes. In Concepts and controversies in tidal marsh ecology, ed. M.P. Weinstein and D.A. Kreeger, 597–630. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  35. Tanner, J.E. 2006. Landscape ecology of interactions between seagrass and mobile epifauna: The matrix matters. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 68: 404–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Thrush, S.F., J. Halliday, J.E. Hewitt, and A.M. Lohrer. 2008. The effects of habitat loss, fragmentation, and community homogenization on resilience in estuaries. Ecological Applications 18: 12–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tomasko, D.A., C.A. Corbett, H.S. Greening, and G.E. Raulerson. 2005. Spatial and temporal variation in seagrass coverage in Southwest Florida: Assessing the relative effects of anthropogenic nutrient load reductions and rainfall in four contiguous estuaries. Marine Pollution Bulletin 50: 797–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Turner, R.E. 1977. Intertidal vegetation and commercial yields of penaied shrimp. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 106: 411–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. US Commission on Ocean Policy. 2004. An ocean blueprint for the 21st century, final report. Washington D.C., ISBN # 0-9759462-0-X.Google Scholar
  40. US EPA. 2005. Use of biological information to better define Designated Aquatic Life Uses: Tiered Aquatic Life Uses. US EPA Publication EPA-822-R-05-001. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  41. Weinstein, M.P. 1979. Shallow marsh habitats as primary nurseries for fishes and shellfish, Cape Fear River, North Carolina. Fishery Bulletin 77: 339–357.Google Scholar
  42. Weinstein, M.P. 2007. Linking restoration ecology and ecological restoration in estuarine landscapes. Estuaries and Coasts 30: 365–370.Google Scholar
  43. Weinstein, M.P., and D.J. Reed. 2005. Sustainable coastal development: The dual mandate and a recommendation for “Commerce Managed Areas”. Restoration Ecology 13: 174–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Weinstein, M.P., R.C. Baird, D.O. Conover, M. Gross, J. Keulartz, D.K. Loomis, Z. Naveh, S.B. Peterson, D.J. Reed, E. Roe, R.L. Swanson, J.A.A. Swart, J.M. Teal, R.E. Turner, and H.J. van der Windt. 2007. Managing coastal resources in the 21st century. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5: 43–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wolfe, S.H., and R.D. Drew. 1990. An ecological characterization of the Tampa Bay watershed: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 90(20).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US EPA Office of Research and DevelopmentAtlantic Ecology DivisionNarragansettUSA
  2. 2.Tampa Bay Estuary ProgramSt. PetersburgUSA

Personalised recommendations