National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Phytoplankton (Marine) Monitoring

NASA MODIS satellite image of South Florida (June 14, 2006)
NASA MODIS satellite image of South Florida (June 14, 2006).

Monitoring Reports


Parks and partners are monitoring phytoplankton. SFCN is not developing a protocol but will link to reports and summaries.

Links to Phytoplankton & Related Data

Resource Briefs, Reports, and Data

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


Phytoplankton are important primary producers in aquatic food webs. Although these communities help regulate the availability of dissolved oxygen (DO) in marine systems at dynamic equilibrium, the community composition and biomass respond to water quality, especially turbidity and nutrient load changes. Increased turbidity reduces the availability of light and decreases photosynthetic activity, while algal blooms may occur due to an increase in nutrient load and this in turn also increases turbidity. As the algae die, the decaying phytoplankton cause a net decrease of DO. Such events have been shown to impact fish and benthic habitat communities that depend on these resources and may cause die-offs. Some species can be especially harmful and/or toxic (e.g., red tides and "black water" events). Phytoplankton monitoring is thus an invaluable indicator of marine habitat conditions.


  • What are the status and trends in frequency, size, and distribution of algal blooms in and around SFCN park waters?
  • When and where are algal blooms occurring?

Status and Trends

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 20–23 in this report) and the RECOVER: 2009 System Status Report.


Phytoplankton and in particular algal blooms are being monitored and reported as part of the CERP RECOVER Monitoring and Assessment Plan, NOAA, the parks, SFWMD, and area researchers. SFCN will link to the summaries and reports of these existing programs.

Other sources of information and data include In addition the University of South Florida Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (ImaRS) site provides daily NASA MODIS Direct Broadcast data products for South Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands including aerial imagery, Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and Chl A data. The NOAA NCCOS Phytoplankton Monitoring Network contains maps and data on algal blooms and educational information.

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Last Updated: March 28, 2017 Contact Webmaster