I BELIEVE that forage fish species, such as menhaden, sardines, anchovies, herring, scad, ballyhoo, and pinfish are critically important to the health of Florida’s marine food webs.

I SUPPORT efforts to better understand, conserve, and manage this important prey base for species such as snook tarpon, redfish, spotted sea trout, sailfish, king mackerel, cobia, dolphinfish, coastal birds, and other marine species that support jobs, revenue, and recreational opportunities in Florida.



The Forage Fish Research Program ,The FFRP, is a public-private partnership between FWRI, leading academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations designed to provide Florida much needed analysis of existing data and foster the development of the next generation of marine scientists.  Once a year, the program provides fellowships to graduate students in marine sciences at Florida universities to work hand in hand with FWRI, one of the country’s leading state institutions dedicated to natural resource sciences, to answer some of the most pressing questions regarding forage fish and their relationship to Florida’s marine habitats and predators.   Fellowship students get real world experience working with the same data the professionals at FWRI use to inform management decisions, FWRI gets much needed support in answering research questions regarding Florida’s marine resources, and citizens reap the recreational and economic benefits of the analyses as our coastal resources thrive.

To learn more about the research and what we have been up to lately then read our newsletter here.

For a presentation on the data available from Florida’s Marine Fisheries-Independent Monitoring (FIM) Program, click the link here.

The Fellows

2023 Fellows -Projects to be completed  by August 2024

Hallie Repeta – University of South Florida

Working on the Gulf of Mexico Atlantis model which is a very complex 3-dimensional “end-to-end” ecosystem model capable of exploring predator-prey dynamics between forage fish and predators.

Christopher Crowder – University of Central Florida

Working on the habitat mosaic approach to better understand fish community dynamics in Tampa Bay.

2022 Fellow -Projects to be completed  by August 2023

Dakota Lewis – University of Florida

Forecasting the future of estuarine fish communities using machine learning.

Barry Walton – Florida State University

Trophic niche partitioning of two sympatric mesopredators in the Apalachicola Bay System using fatty acid profiles and stable isotope analysis of forage fish.

2021 Fellow

Kira Allen – University of Central Florida

Effects of short-term and long-term drought events on Apalachicola Bay forage fish and the associated food web.

2020 Fellows – Projects to be completed by August 2021

Emily Farrell – University of Central Florida

Environmental DNA Analysis of Forage Fish Diversity and Distribution in the Indian River Lagoon.

Dakota Lewis – University of Central Florida

Quantifying the Relationships Among Harmful Algal Blooms, Fish Kills, and Forage Fish Community Dynamics in Coastal Florida.


2019 Fellows

Michelle Shaffer – University of Central Florida

Understanding the effect of disappearing seagrass meadows in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) in Florida due to Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) on forage fish and their predators.

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Dylan Sinnickson – University of Florida

Sinnickson’s work focused on the dynamics of anchovies relative to environmental influence at Cedar Key along Florida’s Nature Coast.

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2018 Fellows

Brittany Troast – University of Central Florida

Researched the effect of changing populations of forage fish on the abundance and diversity of predators and predator-prey relationships in the Indian River Lagoon and St. John’s River. 

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Jonathan Peake – University of Central Florida

Peake’s work focuses on ways to better understand the dynamics of prey species in Gulf Coast estuaries, specifically how they change in abundance, composition and by habitat relative to predators.

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2017 Fellows

Ed Camp – University of Central Florida

Researched the effect of changing populations of forage fish on the abundance and diversity of predators and predator-prey relationships in the Indian River Lagoon and St. John’s River.

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Meaghan – University of South Florida

Researched the population dynamics of pinfish in the Gulf of Mexico by examining traces of carbon and nitrogen isotopes within their eyeballs.

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