Ecosystem Indicators

Full Title: Inventory of Gulf of Mexico ecosystem indicators using an ecological resilience framework

This project will create a comprehensive guide for management using indicators of five common coastal habitats: salt marsh, mangrove, seagrass, oyster beds/reefs, and coral reefs.

The Team: Kathleen Goodin (Lead Investigator, NatureServe,, Don Faber-Langendoen (NatureServe), Ken Dunton (The University of Texas at Austin), Greg Steyer (U.S. Geological Survey), Camille Stagg (U.S. Geological Survey), Richard Day (U.S. Geological Survey), Dave Reed (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Rob Ruzicka (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Matt Love (Ocean Conservancy), Christine Shepard (The Nature Conservancy), and Jorge Brenner (The Nature Conservancy)

Technical Monitor: Becky Allee (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

This project began in September 2015 and will end in August 2018.

Award Amount: $399,955

Why we care: An indicator is a measure of a component or process in an ecosystem that can serve as a proxy for overall condition of the ecosystem. This project will create a comprehensive inventory of ecosystem indicators that can be used for ecological models and effective management.

What we are doing: This project will create a structured framework to evaluate biological and socioeconomic ecosystem indicators collected by existing monitoring programs, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations for a set of scientific, practical, and cost-effective indicators for five key habitats.

The investigators will catalog the indicators being used in existing inventory and monitoring programs; develop conceptual ecological models to help managers understand critical ecosystem functions and stressors that affect ecosystem condition; and identify key ecosystem services provided by the habitats and indicators of their sustainability.

Expected Outcome: The work will result in comprehensive list of indicators and thresholds that managers can use to help with restoration and management efforts.

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