Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of
Florida is an ecosystem comprised of Mosquito
River, Banana River and Indian River with a total length of 156 miles from Ponce de Leon Inlet to
Jupiter Inlet. It is a vital part of our community and environment here in Brevard County,
Florida. The Indian River Lagoon is actually an estuary that is home to 36 rare, threatened or endangered species and the most diverse bird population in America.
27.9979° N, 80.6700° W
Important Biotic Diversity
The Indian River Lagoon is the perfect environment to provide a full time or seasonal home for at least ⅓ of the entire west indian manatee population in the entire nation. This part of Florida is well known and loved as being a home to the manatees. Without this home, the endangered manatees could already be extinct.
The Seagrass Beds of the Indian River Lagoon play an important role in maintaining the biological diversity of the estuary. As reported by irlenvirothon. org, “Besides the 2,100 species of plants, the Lagoon is home to more than
2,200 species of animals - the most in any North American estuary. All seven species of seagrass found in Florida are found in the Lagoon including
Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii), which is found nowhere else in the world.” The complete habitat of a seagrass community is so complete and diverse that it has often been compared to that of a rainforest.
The mangrove forest and salt marsh areas of the
Indian River lagoon are also of utmost importance in the preservation of this unique area. The Red, Black and White mangroves all grow in the warm tropical climate of the Indian River Lagoon. Many of the mangrove forests of Merritt Island were destroyed for mosquito control after development of that area boomed during the space age (Merritt Island is adjacent to Kennedy Space Center in Cape
Canaveral). The dusky seaside sparrow once was a prominent feature of the mangrove forest in Merritt
Island. It is now extinct.
Important Abiotic Factors
The most important abiotic factor in the Indian River Lagoon is runoff. Because this is an estuary with no large openings to the ocean, most of the changes in water depend on differences coming from run off. Too much change can cause desalination or nutrient and pollutant loading. All of these factors affect the water system and can be seen prominently by algae blooms and fish kills.
Another important abiotic factor in an estuary like Indian River Lagoon is dissolved oxygen content.
There is a direct correlation between dissolved oxygen in the water and diversity in the estuary. The
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration writes, “To survive, fish, crabs, oysters and other aquatic animals must have sufficient levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water. The amount of dissolved oxygen in an estuary’s water is the major factor that determines the type and abundance of organisms that can live there.”(May 2015)
The third most important abiotic factor in the Indian River Lagoon habitat is the temperature. The near tropical year round temperature of the east coast of Florida allow a habitat to grow and flourish where otherwise it could not exist. According to touristflorida.com, average high temperatures for central
Florida vary between 71 and 91 degrees year round.
Humans and the Indian River Lagoon
An important factor in the Indian River Lagoon habitat is anthropomorphic
(human caused) activities.These anthropomorphic activities have included dredging, stabilization of inlets, construction of causeways, filling of low areas subject to flooding, installation of mosquito control drainage ditches and dikes, and very extensive channelizing of the watershed to drain fields in the wet