Historical Ecology

Two fishers holding sponges in a small boat
Sponge collecting was once one of the prime drivers of the Key West economy. Ultimately, economic forces, disease outbreaks, and over harvesting led to the demise of this industry in Key West. Photo: Monroe County Public Library

The current condition of the Florida Keys environment is a direct result of forces working on the area in the past. The influences can be natural, such as hurricanes, or human related, such as fishing. People have left an indelible mark on the environment of the Florida Keys. Human impacts on the environment can be better understood by looking into the past ways people interacted with the environment.

Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography investigated the historical ecology of the Florida Keys and published a report titled, "Source Survey: The Historical Ecology of the Florida Keys Coral Reef System".

Sea turtles in a boat harvested to be eaten
The extensive 19th and early 20th century turtle fishery greatly reduced sea turtle populations. Image: Monroe County Public Library