Discover Conservation: Preserving Endangered Species & Habitats

Research Highlights

Miami Blue Butterfly

Miami Blue butterfly on yellow flowerThought to be extinct, a remnant population of less than 100 Miami Blue butterflies was discovered in 1999 at Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys. Once prolific in South Florida, the Miami Blue's population began to decline in the 1980s from a number of factors including development and heavy pesticide spraying.

After considerable research and evaluation, McGuire Center Assistant Director Jaret Daniels and his research team designed a plan to breed the rare Miami Blue butterfly in captivity and then reintroduce them to portions of their native range. In 2004, they released about 7,500 Miami Blue caterpillars in Everglades and Biscayne Bay national parks. The project is one of the largest captive breeding programs in the country, with 30,000 individuals released during the past four years to attempt to restore this native butterfly to part of its historic range.


Florida Program for Shark Research

The Florida Program for Shark Research is a leader in both domestic and international research and conservation of sharks, skates and rays, known as elasmobranchs. The program focuses on obtaining critical biological information needed to enhance international fishery management and conservation of elasmobranchs. Systematic studies of shark biology — including life history, ecology and behavior — document biodiversity and are crucial in determining the conservation status of individual species, many of which are in rapid decline.

The program actively promotes shark conservation through educational outreach programs such as Project Shark Awareness and Sawfish In Peril, as well as through the Museum's Ichthyology web site. The program's web site serves as the host site for the International Shark Attack FileSmalltooth Sawfish Recovery Team and International Sawfish Encounter Database.


Florida Panther

Candace McCaffery holding a panther skull

Mammals collection manager Candace McCaffery holds a Florida panther skull.

Museum specimens provide a valuable opportunity to learn about the biology of animals long after their deaths. The Florida Museum is home to a large collection of preserved Florida panther skins and skeletons acquired through a cooperative salvage program with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; most of these animals were killed on Florida highways. These specimens provide a permanent record of physical, genetic and demographic changes in the Florida panther population over the past 50 years.

This unique collection is available to researchers throughout the U.S. and has been the subject of many studies by Assistant Curator of Mammology David Reed and his colleagues involving genetics, osteopathology (bone abnormalities, breakage, or pathogens), and environmental toxins. Small bone samples reveal dietary preferences through stable isotope analysis.


Image Galleries

Revealing the Rare: A Virtual Collection of Florida's Endangered Plant Species

Herbarium specimen of Apalachicola wild-indigo

Apalachicola wild-indigo

High resolution, zoomable images of endangered, threatened and commercially exploitable Florida plants.


Science Stories

Read more about imperiled and endangered species research at the Museum: