NAS Pensacola is situated on the coastal plain of the Gulf Coastal Lowlands and is home to many unique and varying natural communities and ecosystems. Among these communities include estuarine tidal marshes, scrub habitat, masic flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, wet flatwoods, beach dunes, and baygall. Natural Resources Management seeks to improve all these ecosystems and return them to their historical quality to the extent practicable within the constraints of the military mission requirements.
The following are some predominant wildlife species of NAS Pensacola that can act as keystone species for their natural habitats.
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
The Gopher Tortoise is a keystone species for the southeast United States that greatly influences the ecological composition, structure, and function of Southern pine forests. Habitat loss and fragmentation, primarily harvesting and clearing of Longleaf pine habitat, has posed the greatest threat to this species.
While not federally listed in the eastern portion of its range (which includes the state of Florida), the Navy has entered into a Candidate Conservation Agreement with other Federal, State and private partners to proactively protect this important species.
For more information on the Gopher Tortoise and its conservation issues- click here.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
The Osprey is one of the largest birds of prey in North America, and eats almost exclusively fish. During the 1950s and 60s the species declined dramatically due to the toxic effects of DDT and other insecticides. However, over the past 50 years, Ospreys have made an impressive recovery, retaking most of their original range.
The Navy manages NASP Osprey populations primarily through the use of artificial nesting towers. These towers serve the dual purpose of providing nesting habitat for migrating osprey as well as ensuring the birds do not nest near active runways.