Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daniel O. Suman

Second Committee Member

Maria L. Estevanez

Third Committee Member

Joseph Serafy


Oleta River State Park (ORSP), located in North Miami-Dade County is known as the most highly urbanized State Park in all of Florida. The present study was conducted as part of an ongoing seasonally-resolved survey of fish utilization of the mangrove shorelines of Biscayne Bay. Previous Unit Management Plans published by the Division of Recreation and Parks have lacked information concerning the park's prominent mangrove forests along with its icthyofauna. The main purpose of this thesis was to provide a baseline characterization of the mangrove-fish assemblages and microhabitat trends of ORSP, against which future changes in and around the Park can be gauged. Fish assemblages inhabiting the mangrove shorelines were examined using a visual "belt-transect" census method over 11 consecutive seasons. Microhabitat variables including salinity, water temperature, water depth, water clarity and distance from Baker's Haulover Inlet were examined for possible correlations with fish metrics. Several significant differences were evident in the taxonomic richness (number of taxa per unit area) and densities of the five most abundant taxa within the shoreline habitats in terms of seasonal variation and microhabitat variable distribution along the river. Taxonomic richness was typically greater in survey sites located closer to Baker's Haulover Inlet. Oleta River's mangrove shoreline fish assemblages appear to reflect (1) proximity of the mangroves that they occupy to Baker's Haulover Inlet; (2) temperature regime along the shoreline; and (3) the salinity gradient found within the river. Fish assemblage and microhabitat information collected here could serve as a "baseline" in future investigations of the effects of further urbanization or the effects of other anthropogenic changes to Oleta River and its mangrove habitat, including possible changes to freshwater flow associated with the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.


Seasonality; Microhabitat Variables; Fish Assemblages; Urbanization