Fish Communities in Rice Fields of the Everglades Agricultural Area


Wendy M. Bear, Michelle L. Casler, Elise V. Pearlstine and Frank J. Mazzotti


  • What are the fish species of rice fields of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)?
  • How does this compare with non-agricultural habitat at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge?
  • How do fish use these habitats?
  • How does the water cycle - from flooding through drawdown - affect the fish populations?
  • How do canals, ditches and fields interact?


  • Surveys lasted the entire cultivation season from flooding to harvest
  • We used minnow traps with 1/8 inch mesh
  • We sampled at dawn and for 10 minutes
  • Species, number, size, sex, gravid
  • Water depth - field, ditch, canal
  • Canopy cover percent
  • Vegetation height
  • We also used other methods including visual, overnight and dip net
  • We also measured water quality - dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and conductance
Aerial Photo Rice Field
Aerial photo of rice field structure with a ditch in the center right and one at the bottom of the image. A study site in the EAA


  • We found 8604 individuals in 15 species in agricultural and non-agricultural habitat
  • The highest number of fish were found in ditches, second highest in canals, the fewest in the field and field edges
  • Ditches and canals with brushy edges supported more fish than those with manicured edges
  • Management of water levels and edges affected the numbers of fish caught


Funding for this project was provided by the Everglades Protection District.


Bear, W.M., M.L. Casler, E.V. Pearlstine and F.J. Mazzotti. (2003s, April). Fish Communities in Rice Fields of the Everglades Agricultural Area. Talk presented at the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Conference.

More About This Project

Ecology and Management of Wildlife in the Everglades Agricultural Area