National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Freshwater Fish & Large Macro-Invertebrates Monitoring

Monitoring Reports


The SFCN freshwater fish and large macro-invertebrates protocol is currently under development.

Resource Briefs, Reports, and Data

There are currently no SFCN resource briefs, reports, or data concerning this monitoring topic.


Regional populations of wet prairies and marsh fishes and other aquatic fauna reflect regional hydrology (water depth, timing, duration, quantity, quality) and are the prey base for wading birds and other higher consumers in the Greater Everglades and Big Cypress ecosystem. Water diversions and altered water management practices have resulted in declines in regional populations of fish and aquatic invertebrates with cascading impacts on higher food web levels. Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan RECOVER program (CERP) will be rehabilitating system hydrology that is expected to affect these populations.

Monitoring Objectives

  • What are the status and trends of fish and large macro-invertebrate assemblages, community composition, abundance (density & relative abundance), size structure, and distribution, especially in relation to hydrological patterns and water quality in wet prairies and marshes?
  • What is relative abundance and distribution of exotic species?

Status & Trends

Big Cypress National Preserve

The SFCN was unable to conduct any sampling of freshwater fish and large macro-invertebrates in 2013 due to time constraints. Monitoring for this vital sign initially called for a coordinated sampling effort between this and two other relevant vital signs: Periphyton and Aquatic Invertebrates in Wet Prairies and Marshes. All sampling would take place in the northwest portion of Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY). However, sampling for this vital sign would take place at a time of year not suitable for the collections associated with the other two vital signs, due to accessibility to sites and logistical constraints.

The SFCN will initiate a pilot study to sample fish and macro-invertebrates in the northwest portion of BICY in 2015 if appropriate, depending on results from the aquatic invertebrate vital sign. Sampling methodology for this vital sign will either be similar to that used to sample forested areas (BICY, Audubon of Florida) or marshes (EVER, Florida International University). The SFCN will determine if sampling sites for this vital sign will be located next to existing periphyton sampling sites or have its own sample frame. This vital sign is also going to be dependent on establishing a strong relationship to water quality impacts.

Everglades National Park
Status and trends for this vital sign are reported as part of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force 2010 System-wide Ecological Indicators for Everglades Restoration (See page 8–11 in this report) and the RECOVER: 2009 System Status Report.


SFCN will develop the protocol “Freshwater fish, invertebrates, and periphyton” for monitoring in Northwestern BICY and will seek to report on existing monitoring efforts underway in EVER and Northeastern BICY:

  1. Long-term monitoring funded by CERP RECOVER MAP is underway in Shark River Slough that is designed as a Generalized Random Tessellation Stratified (GRTS) design and is re-randomized every year (58 sample sites occurred in EVER and BICY in 2005). Throw traps are used and fish are collected, counted and sized by species. (Philippi, 2003, 2005) Periphyton samples are collected simultaneously. Long-term sentinel site monitoring is also occurring by Joel Trexler and Jeff Kline. SFCN feels this monitoring is sufficient and does not anticipate expanding this monitoring.
  2. SFCN plans to work with the CERP funded effort in northeastern BICY to develop a similar sampling design and protocols for northwestern BICY. In NE BICY pilot studies are underway to study different protocols for monitoring fishes in cypress forests and in the mangrove/marsh interface paid for by CERP RECOVER MAP. It is unclear whether it will be funded long-term. Monitoring implementation in NW BICY will involve a pilot sampling period and writing of a full protocol prior to full implementation and would be conducted in cooperation with CERP funded effort in Northeastern BICY so that the two data sets could be compared and if appropriate combined. Sampling would focus in the area of northwest Big Cypress, north of Interstate 75 and west of the Florida National Scenic Trail entrance. Periphyton samples & micro-invertebrate samples would be collected simultaneously. A pilot study funded by CERP RECOVER in the northeastern portion of BICY found that throw traps similar to those used in Everglades National Park and the Water Conservation Areas appear to be the best method to use (compared with drop traps, lift traps, drift fences, gill nets) (Liston et al., 2006). However additional methods may be needed to sample deeper areas in Okaloacoochee Slough and East Hinson Marsh (Joel Trexler, personal communication).

Sampling in Everglades is done at approximately 10–12 sampling units per landscape unit with about 2–5 throwtrap samples per sampling unit. Landscape units are chosen to be homogenous. If we assume that this area will include at least 1 landscape unit then about 12 sites would be visited 2 times each year with 3 throw-traps each. As with the NW BICY effort, a subset (3 sites) may be visited 5 times a year during the pilot monitoring phase (early, mid and late wet season, early & mid dry season) to determine optimal times to sample with sampling tied to number of days since drydown and water stage at nearby stations. The remainder of sites would be sampled in the late wet season (October) and possibly mid dry season (March).

In the future if additional funds become available, expansion to more of BICY and sampling in VIIS guts and Salt River should be considered. However this sampling is deferred for now due to insufficient funds.

⇑ To Top of Page

Last Updated: March 28, 2017 Contact Webmaster