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Dry Tortugas National Park Resource Condition Assessment


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Objectives

  • Identify natural and anthropogenic stressors affecting the ecological condition of natural resources within the Dry Tortugas National Park.
  • Assess the effectiveness of the adjacent Tortugas Ecological Reserve in protecting natural resources and in providing ecological and economic benefits to the region.
Project Study Area for Dry Tortugas National Park Resource Condition Assessment
Project Study Area for Dry Tortugas National Park Resource Condition Assessment

Project Summary

The Dry Tortugas National Park, remotely located 113 km (70 miles) from Key West in the Straights of Florida, is a small (269 km2) multi-use managed area with seven small islands and extensive shallow water coral reefs. It includes a Research Natural Area established in 2007 to protect shallow water marine habitat and the biological resources they contain. The park is adjacent to the larger Tortugas Ecological Reserve, which is a 518-km2 no-take area established in 2001 to protect critical coral reef ecosystems of the region and to provide increased ecosystem goods and services to the rest of the Florida Keys.

The study proposed here is an add-on component to the Tortugas Integrated Ecosystem Assessment project and will use all existing information sources - published and unpublished - to characterize natural resources and assess their condition at Dry Tortugas National Park. Significant natural resources within Dry Tortugas National Park include ocean, coral reefs, fisheries, seagrass beds, and sea turtle and bird nesting habitat. Despite the park’s relative remoteness, coral abundance has decreased substantially in recent years and reef gamefish species are considered overfished. Additional concerns include physical damage caused by boating, snorkeling and diving, potential pollution sources inside and outside the park, and impacts from hurricanes and elevated sea surface temperatures.

Results of this assessment will provide the park with an integrated, overall evaluation of current natural resource conditions where documented. The assessment will also identify anthropogenic and natural environmental threats or stressors to park natural resources, and offer recommendations for further studies to address information gaps or to more fully evaluate condition. Results of this assessment will be integrated into park and service-wide databases and will be used to guide Department of the Interior’s reporting on land health as prescribed by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993.

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Time Frame

Ongoing: Summer 2006 to Summer 2011

For More Information

Project Managers:
1305 East-West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring , MD 20910
301-713-3028 x134



1305 East-West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring , MD 20910
301-713-3028 x160


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