Research is the driving force behind MKEI’s mission to cultivate partnerships to create sustainable environmental change bettering our globe.


At MKEI, we gather and analyze data to develop solutions to environmental challenges; to address balance between humans and the environment; and to enhance management and use of environmental resources.

Current projects focus on Northwest Florida’s coastal dune lakes. These are unique water bodies located near the coastline, which open intermittently to the Gulf of Mexico. MKEI is examining the biology (flora and fauna), chemical, and physical components to construct a comprehensive assessment of these valuable ecosystems.

What We’re Working On Now

Coastal Dune Lakes Phytoplankton Assessment

Obtaining descriptive baseline data about the phytoplankton communities present in the coastal dune lakes to better understand their dynamics in dune lake ecology.

Coastal Dune Lakes Vegetation Survey

Assessing aquatic macrophyte (plant) communities in the coastal dune lakes and how salinity affects those communities.

Coastal Dune Lakes Fish Population Survey

Providing a baseline understanding of the variety of species inhabiting the coastal dune lakes, and their respective locations.

Oyster Reef Faunal Assessment

Analyzing the biodiversity of oyster reef sites, to assess how productive the reefs have become since installation.


Our Publications

Our comprehensive study on the composition of our area’s multiple coastal dune lakes is available now to read through Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science.

Effects of seawater exchange on water chemistry among coastal lakes with intermittent connections to the sea

MKEI and colleagues looked at the underwater (submersed) plant communities in the 14 different waterbodies (coastal dune lakes) located along the Gulf of Mexico in Walton and Bay Florida counties. We found levels of salinity in the water changed the amount and types of submersed plants found in the lakes. See the link  to read the full paper published in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science!

Influence of salinity on SAV distribution in a series of intermittently connected coastal lakes

October Fish of the Month: Red Drum Sciaenops occelatus

October Fish of the Month: Red Drum Sciaenops occelatus Dr. Geoffrey Smith NWFSC Biology Instructor A fish whose coloration and life history match the start of the fall season. Red Drum, more commonly referred to as Redfish by most (or Channel Bass if you’re from a bit farther north on the Atlantic coast) are a…

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