Impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) on Aquatic Animals in Florida
IAAAM Archive
Jan H. Landsberg
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
St. Petersburg, FL, USA


With more than 70 harmful algal bloom (HAB) species, Florida has all the major groups of HABs that have a potential to affect public health, cause economic losses, and impact living resources.1,2,3 The most significant toxins produced by Florida HABs include: 1) brevetoxins from the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis cause Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning, and affect human, marine mammal, or bird respiratory systems via the toxic aerosol; and brevetoxicosis resulting in invertebrate, fish, bird, sea turtles, marine mammal mortalities; 2) neurotoxic saxitoxins (STXs) from the dinoflagellate Pyrodinium bahamense associated with Saxitoxin Puffer Fish Poisoning4 but an unknown risk to natural resources, despite documented co-occurring animal mortality events; 3) ciguatoxins from the benthic dinoflagellate, Gambierdiscus toxicus cause ciguatera fish poisoning and have been implicated in fish kills5; and 4) hepatotoxic or neurotoxic cyanotoxins, such as microcystins, lyngbyatoxin, anatoxin, and cylindrospermopsin from freshwater cyanobacteria Microcystis, Lyngbya, Anabaena, and Cylindrospermopsis2. As well as producing tumor promoters, cyanobacteria are associated with human illness and mortalities of livestock, pets, and natural resources. Ichthyotoxic marine HAB species, including Alexandrium monilatum, Gymnodinium pulchellum, Karenia brevis, K. mikimotoi, and Chattonella sp. have been associated with multi-species fish kills statewide. Management plans need continuous reappraisal to address the changing scope and impacts associated with HABs in Florida's waters, and to assess risks to natural resources from chronic exposure.


1.  Steidinger KA, Landsberg JH, Tomas CR, Burns JW. 1999. Harmful algal blooms in Florida. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida, 63pp.

2.  Williams CD, Burns J, Chapman A, Flewelling L, Pawlowicz M, Carmichael W. 2001. Assessment of cyanotoxins in Florida's lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Final report. St. John's River Water Management District, Palatka, Florida, 41pp.

3.  Landsberg JH. 2002. The effects of harmful algal blooms on aquatic organisms. Rev. Fish. Sci., 10: 113-390.

4.  Landsberg JH, Hall S, Johannessen JN, White KD, Conrad SM, Abbott JP, Flewelling LJ, Richardson RW, Dickey RW, Jester ELE, Etheridge SM, Deeds JR, Van Dolah FM, Leighfield TA, Zou Y, Beaudry CG, Benner RA, Rogers PL, Scott PS, Kawabata K, Wolny JL, Steidinger KA. 2006. Saxitoxin puffer fish poisoning in the United States, with the first report of Pyrodinium bahamense as the putative toxin source. Environ. Health Perspect. 114: 1502-1507.

5.  Landsberg JH. 1995. Tropical reef fish disease outbreaks and mass mortalities in Florida: what is the role of dietary biological toxins? Dis. Aquat. Org. 22: 83-100.

Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Jan H. Landsberg

MAIN : Plenary Session : Harmful Algal Blooms
Powered By VIN