Saint Petersburg, FL, United States
Saint Petersburg, FL, United States

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is a Florida government agency charged with managing the state's fish and wildlife resources, regulating Florida's fisheries and wildlife, and enforcing related laws. Besides managers, research, and support personnel, the FWC operates as a law enforcement agency; FWC officers can perform many police functions in the course of their duties.The Florida Constitution authorizes the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to enact rules and regulations regarding the state's fish and wildlife resources. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.To do this, the seven Commissioners meet five times each year to hear staff reports, consider rule proposals, and conduct other Commission business. Because stakeholder involvement is a crucial part of the process, we conduct Commission meetings in different locations across the state offering citizens the opportunity to address the Commission about issues under consideration.A similar agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection serves as the environmental regulatory agency for the state of Florida, enforcing environmental legislation .The FWC is headquartered in Tallahassee, the state capital. It has over 1,800 full-time employees and maintains a Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, five regional offices, and 73 field offices across the state. Seven commissioners are appointed by the governor. Wikipedia.


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Blickley J.L.,University of California at Davis | Blackwood D.,University of California at Davis | Blackwood D.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Patricelli G.L.,University of California at Davis
Conservation Biology | Year: 2012

Increasing evidence suggests that chronic noise from human activities negatively affects wild animals, but most studies have failed to separate the effects of chronic noise from confounding factors, such as habitat fragmentation. We played back recorded continuous and intermittent anthropogenic sounds associated with natural gas drilling and roads at leks of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). For 3 breeding seasons, we monitored sage grouse abundance at leks with and without noise. Peak male attendance (i.e., abundance) at leks experimentally treated with noise from natural gas drilling and roads decreased 29% and 73%, respectively, relative to paired controls. Decreases in abundance at leks treated with noise occurred in the first year of the study and continued throughout the experiment. Noise playback did not have a cumulative effect over time on peak male attendance. There was limited evidence for an effect of noise playback on peak female attendance at leks or male attendance the year after the experiment ended. Our results suggest that sage-grouse avoid leks with anthropogenic noise and that intermittent noise has a greater effect on attendance than continuous noise. Our results highlight the threat of anthropogenic noise to population viability for this and other sensitive species. © 2012 Society for Conservation Biology.


Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) production dynamics along the U.S. Atlantic coast are regulated by fishing and winter water temperature. Stakeholders for this resource have recommended investigating the effects of climate covariates in assessment models. This study used state-space biomass dynamic models without (model 1) and with (model 2) the minimum winter estuarine temperature (MWET) to examine MWET effects on Atlantic Croaker population dynamics during 1972-2008. In model 2, MWET was introduced into the intrinsic rate of population increase (r). For both models, a prior probability distribution (prior) was constructed for r or a scaling parameter (r0); imputs were the fishery removals, and fall biomass indices developed by using data from the Multispecies Bottom Trawl Survey of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Coastal Trawl Survey of the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program. Model sensitivity runs incorporated a uniform(0.01,1.5) prior for r or r0 and bycatch data from the shrimp-trawl fishery. All model variants produced similar results and therefore supported the conclusion of low risk of overfishing for the Atlantic Croaker stock in the 2000s. However, the data statistically supported only model 1 and its configuration that included the shrimp-trawl fishery bycatch. The process errors of these models showed slightly positive and significant correlations with MWET, indicating that warmer winters would enhance Atlantic Croaker biomass production. Inconclusive, somewhat conflicting results indicate that biomass dynamic models should not integrate MWET, pending, perhaps, accumulation of longer time series of the variables controlling the production dynamics of Atlantic Croaker, preferably including winter-induced estimates of Atlantic Croaker kills. © 2014 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.


Adams D.H.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2010

Wahoo, Acanthocybium solandri, are predatory oceanic fish that occur and are harvested in all tropical and subtropical oceans. Total mercury concentrations analyzed in dorsal muscle tissue of 208 wahoo from offshore waters of the southeastern United States and the Bahamas ranged from 0.021 to 3.4 mg/kg (wet weight), with a mean of 0.50 mg/kg (± 0.595 SD). Analyses indicated significant positive linear relationships between mercury and length, as well as, age of wahoo. The piscivorous nature, generally high trophic position, fast growth rate, and associated high metabolism of wahoo within tropical offshore pelagic environments may lead to comparatively higher concentrations of mercury over relatively short time periods. Mercury in wahoo, a highly mobile species consisting of one world-wide population, is regionally influenced by large-scale spatial differences in available mercury in selected prey fish species - many of which have been found to contain relatively high concentrations of mercury. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Grier H.J.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Journal of Morphology | Year: 2012

Pelagic egg development in red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, is described using tiered staging. Based on mitosis and meiosis, there are five periods: Mitosis of Oogonia, Active Meiosis I, Arrested Meiosis I, Active Meiosis II, and Arrested Meiosis II. The Periods are divided into six stages: Mitotic Division of Oogonia, Chromatin Nucleolus, Primary Growth, Secondary Growth, Oocyte Maturation and Ovulation. The Chromatin Nucleolus Stage is divided into four steps: Leptotene, Zygotene, Pachytene, and Early Diplotene. Oocytes in the last step possess one nucleolus, dispersed chromatin with forming lampbrush chromosomes and lack basophilic ooplasm. The Primary Growth Stage, characterized by basophilic ooplasm and absence of yolk in oocytes, is divided into five steps: One-Nucleolus, Multiple Nucleoli, Perinucleolar, Oil Droplets, and Cortical Alveolar. During primary growth, the Balbiani body develops from nuage, enlarges and disperses throughout the ooplasm as both endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi develop within it. Secondary growth or vitellogenesis has three steps: Early Secondary Growth, Late Secondary Growth and Full-Grown. The Oocyte Maturation Stage, including ooplasmic and germinal vesicle maturation, has four steps: Eccentric Germinal Vesicle, Germinal Vesicle Migration, Germinal Vesicle Breakdown and Resumption of Meiosis when complete yolk hydration occurs. The period is Arrested Meiosis II. When folliculogenesis is completed, the ovarian follicle, an oocyte and encompassing follicle cells, is surrounded by a basement membrane and developing theca, all forming a follicle complex. After ovulation, a newly defined postovulatory follicle complex remains attached to the germinal epithelium. It is composed of a basement membrane that separates the postovulatory follicle from the postovulatory theca. Arrested Meiosis I encompasses primary and secondary growth (vitellogenesis) and includes most of oocyte maturation until the resumption of meiosis (Active Meiosis II). The last stage, Ovulation, is the emergence of the oocyte from the follicle when it becomes an egg or ovum. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


The movements of the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) were studied in three subregions: (1) patch reefs, (2) forereef, and (3) outlier reef, in and around the Western Sambo Ecological Reserve (WSER) (Florida, USA) using acoustic tags and receivers. The studies took place from the June 2003 through July 2007 and involved various receiver deployments such as tracking grids and emigration rings designed to track relatively short daily movements and long-distance (>1. km) movements. Daily movements were found to be highly repetitive in some individual lobsters in both the patch reef and the forereef. Some forereef lobsters shifted foraging preference between the forereef itself (63%), a shallow back reef area (10%), reef base (9%), and a deeper reef base area (4%), with undetermined making up the remainder. Approximately one-third of the patch reef resident lobsters exhibited significantly enhanced nocturnal movements during periods of low or no lunar illumination. Twenty-two nomadic movements were detected and occurred throughout the year and included individuals that moved between Western Sambo Ecological Reserve and the outlier reef south of the reserve. Lateral movements detected along the forereef were exhibited by only a few male lobsters. Reproductive migrations by reproductively active female lobsters were observed in all subregions. These movements are characterized by a sudden rapid southward move initiated near midnight. For patch reef and forereef females, the destination is deep water to the south of the forereef. Outlier reef females moved to deeper water to their south. Up to three reproductive migrations were conducted at a median interval of 25 days (16 multiple trips detected). With respect to one of WSER's stated management goals, i.e., to protect life histories, lobster movements have shown that the outlier reef subregion, located 1. km south of the southern WSER border, is integral to the spiny lobster life history and should be considered for inclusion into WSER. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Dorazio R.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Martin J.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Edwards H.H.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Ecology | Year: 2013

The class of N-mixture models allows abundance to be estimated from repeated, point count surveys while adjusting for imperfect detection of individuals. We developed an extension of N-mixture models to account for two commonly observed phenomena in point count surveys: rarity and lack of independence induced by unmeasurable sources of variation in the detectability of individuals. Rarity increases the number of locations with zero detections in excess of those expected under simple models of abundance (e.g., Poisson or negative binomial). Correlated behavior of individuals and other phenomena, though difficult to measure, increases the variation in detection probabilities among surveys. Our extension of N-mixture models includes a hurdle model of abundance and a beta-binomial model of detectability that accounts for additional (extra-binomial) sources of variation in detections among surveys. As an illustration, we fit this model to repeated point counts of the West Indian manatee, which was observed in a pilot study using aerial surveys. Our extension of Nmixture models provides increased flexibility. The effects of different sets of covariates may be estimated for the probability of occurrence of a species, for its mean abundance at occupied locations, and for its detectability. © 2013 by the Ecological Society of America.


Poulakis G.R.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Marine and Coastal Fisheries | Year: 2013

The Cownose Ray Rhinoptera bonasus is an abundant species in the western Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico, but its reproductive biology is not completely known because of the difficulty of obtaining year-round samples in large portions of its range where the species is migratory. To address this knowledge gap, Cownose Rays were studied in a subtropical estuarine system where rays are available year-round. Size at maturity and reproductive cyclicity were assessed using 140 females and 151 males. For females, the size at 50% maturity was 701 mm disk width (DW) based on ovary length and weight, maximum follicle diameter, and mating wounds and scars; the size at 100% maturity was 712 mm DW. For males, the size at 50% maturity was 681 mm DW based on clasper morphology, testis length and weight, and epididymis width; the size at 100% maturity was 712 mm DW. Overall testis size (length and weight) and mean testis lobe diameter peaked up to 2 months prior to ovary size and maximum follicle diameter, indicating that males were preparing to inseminate females during the entire parturition and mating period. Mating behaviors and fresh mating wounds were observed mostly between April and June. Ovulation peaked in May, and parturition occurred primarily in March and April after an 11-12 month, single-embryo gestation period, suggesting that females are synchronous in Charlotte Harbor. Size at birth was 202-383 mm DW. Concurrent vitellogenesis and gestation indicated a clearly defined annual reproductive cycle that may be completed within the estuary. Understanding reproductive life history in wide-ranging species such as the Cownose Ray is useful in the short term for making sound management decisions and for future comparison as the effects of global climate change are realized. Received September 30, 2012; accepted March 21, 2013. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


Edwards H.H.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Climatic Change | Year: 2013

Most discussions of impacts of Climate Change have focused on species from temperate or polar regions. Impacts to species inhabiting warm climates are often believed to be small relative to those of species living in cooler climates. However, it is evident that some tropical/sub-tropical species, including some marine megafauna may face potentially serious consequences from a changing climate. For example, larger, warmer oceans may appear to benefit marine wildlife species like cold-sensitive Florida manatees; however, findings regarding the impact of global climate change (GCC) on estuaries and nearshore areas of Florida indicate that predicted impacts of climate change may be detrimental to endangered manatees. An examination of how projected impacts of climate change will affect threats to manatees and their habitat indicates that threats may be exacerbated. The most significant threats to the Florida manatee population, such as cold-stress, watercraft collisions, and harmful algal blooms likely will increase. Habitat is likely to be degraded under future climate scenarios. Alterations to Florida's marine environment are ongoing, yet current manatee management plans do not consider the impacts of climate change. The ability of manatees to adapt to change will be influenced by the speed of change and the degree to which human activity impedes or alters it. To minimize impacts to species we must recognize the influence GCC may have on populations, and begin to identify and implement ways to slow or reverse negative impacts arising from it. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Rogers L.L.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Human-Wildlife Interactions | Year: 2011

Diversionary feeding of black bears (Ursus americanus) around campgrounds and residential areas has received little study because of concerns that it might create nuisance bears and jeopardize public safety. To evaluate those concerns and assess its effectiveness in mitigating human-bear conflict, we studied diversionary feeding, habituation, and foodconditioning at a U.S. Forest Service campground and residential complex near Ely, Minnesota. During 1981 to 1983, 6 bears (2/year) had been removed from this area as nuisances; but during 8 years of diversionary feeding (1984 to 1991), the only removals were 2 bears that had newly immigrated to the periphery of the study area and had not yet found the diversionary feeding site. The reduction in nuisance activity was significant, despite continued availability of garbage and the fact that the study bears were habituated and food-conditioned. No bear that visited the diversionary-feeding site became a nuisance or jeopardized public safety, even in 1985, the year with the lowest bear food index and the highest number of nuisance complaints ever recorded throughout Minnesota. Diversionary feeding led to greater tolerance of bears by residents. My data indicate that hunger, not habituation and food-conditioning, creates bear-human conflicts.


Adams D.H.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission | Paperno R.,Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2012

Stable-isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N) and mercury in a model predator, and associated prey community assessments were used to make inferences regarding food web relationships and how these relationships are influenced by habitat variability and anthropogenic factors. Although interconnected, the three major basins of the Indian River Lagoon system on the Atlantic coast of Florida comprise noticeably different available habitat types with spatially distinct faunal communities and available prey for spotted seatrout, Cynoscion nebulosus, a model predatory fish species. Water quality, degree of urbanization, human population density, and levels of nitrogen enrichment clearly differ between these representative estuarine basins. The differences can influence feeding ecology and therefore result in different mercury concentrations and different stable-isotope signatures of spotted seatrout between basins. Mercury concentrations in spotted seatrout were greatest in Mosquito Lagoon (ML) and least in the Indian River Lagoon proper (IRL), although concentrations were low for all basins. Spotted seatrout from IRL were carbon-depleted and nitrogen-enriched compared with those from the other basins; this suggests either that the fish's primary source of carbon in IRL is an algae- or phytoplankton-based food web or that the pathway through the food web is shorter there. The δ15N values of IRL spotted seatrout were greater than those in the Banana River Lagoon or ML, suggesting slightly different trophic positioning of fish in these basins. The greater δ15N values in IRL spotted seatrout may also reflect the greater human population density and resultant anthropogenic inputs (e.g., observed higher total nitrogen levels) in IRL compared with the other more pristine basins examined. Understanding species' responses to broad-scale habitat heterogeneity in estuaries and knowing basin-specific differences in stable isotopes, mercury, prey communities, and comprehensive food web relationships will be useful in the future for long-term monitoring of impacts of anthropogenic disturbances and of recovery from restoration efforts. © 2011 Elsevier B.V..

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