Ecosystem Status Report highlights

With the aim of supporting Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM), the Florida Keys NOAA Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program seeks to provide scientific knowledge of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary integrated ecosystem, and transfer that knowledge to scientists, policy makers and resource managers. A suite of indicators was developed via expert workshop and qualitative and quantitative selection, to represent sections of the Sanctuary’s ecological and socioeconomic condition, and are presented in this website and report.

This Ecosystem Status Report is compiled by NOAA’s Florida Keys Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Program (IEA) team, in collaboration with academic partners, Sanctuary resource managers and scientists, non governmental organizations, and other government and state agencies. Below are a subset of the status and trends of key indicators from the Technical Report representing the condition report sections of Human Activities, Ecosystem Services, Habitat, Living Resources, Sanctuary Waters,and Maritime Archaeological Resources.

conceptual model of the Florida Keys Ecosystem

Click Key Indicators here or at the top right corner for key indicators, and download the full Technical Report for a comprehensive list of indicators and their status and trends.


Resident population has increased in the Keys over the last century, but has leveled out since the 1980s. This driver puts pressure on the ecosystem, but level or decreasing population growth in turn changes the ecosystem services available and provided in the Keys.


Tourism trends, via tax revenue and cruise ship passenger numbers, have greatly increased in the last 30 years. This can put pressure on infrastructure, increase degradation of Sanctuary waters, and increase extractive resource use. However, Sanctuary resources help to support the total tourism value of the Keys as an ecosystem service to the community.


Stable to decreasing pressure on resources was seen via trends in the number of commercial fishing trips. The trends in total number of commercial fishing trips, total landings and total number of trips targeting economically important species were all stable to decreasing.


A decrease and then increase in the total number registered vessels as well as total tourism value in Monroe County was seen in response to the 2008 Great Recession.


A decrease in spatial coverage of important habitat building species, including live tissue area of stony corals, coral species richness, volume of barrel sponges, abundance of calcareous green macroalgae and abundance of seagrass, was seen in the Florida Keys ecosystem.


A reduction in pressure on Sanctuary water quality is evident via an increased percentage of housing units connected to the central sewer system, rather than usage of aging septic tanks and cesspools.


An increasing trend in public participation in maritime archaeological resource related stewardship events shows enhanced public awareness and appreciation of these cultural heritage resources in the Sanctuary.

the EBM-DPSER Framework

With the aim of supporting Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM), the Gulf of Mexico NOAA IEA program seeks to provide scientific knowledge of the Gulf of Mexico integrated ecosystem and transfer that knowledge to managers. In pursuit of this effort, conceptualizing the ecosystem and its focal components, drivers, pressures, states, services, and responses is crucial. The Gulf of Mexico IEA team has undertaken several conceptual modeling efforts to elicit subject matter expert opinion and engage stakeholders in conceptualizing the integrated systems of the Gulf of Mexico in order to develop indicators for this report. The team utilizes a holistic approach for conceptualizing the integrated socio-ecological system in the Gulf of Mexico by incorporating metrics from all areas of the Driver-Pressure-State-Ecosystem Service-Response (EBM-DPSER) framework (Kelble at al., 2013)

The components of the DPSER framework are listed below.
  • Drivers

    A ‘driving force’ is a need. Examples of primary driving forces for an individual are the need for shelter, food and water, while examples of secondary driving forces are the need for mobility, entertainment and culture.

  • Pressures

    Pressures are physical, chemical, and biological mechanism that are the proximal causes of change in the ecosystem. Pressures are the particular effects of drivers in the ecosystem.

  • States

    States refers to the condition of the physical, chemical, and biological attributes of the marine environment.

  • Ecosystem Services

    Ecosystem services are the benefits people receive from the ecosystem. As such, they reflect societal values, goals, desires, and benefits and contribute to human well-being.

  • Responses

    Responses are actions that people take, which are related to changes in the ecosystem. There represent a feedback mechanism through which human activates can alter, drivers, pressures, states of ecosystem services.

for more info about the IEA program in the Florida Keys please Contact us:

Kelly Montenero:
Chris Kelble:
Seann Regan:
Beth Dieveney: