What is a CESU?

Seventeen Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESUs) across the nation provide research, technical assistance, and education to federal land management, environment, and research agencies and their partners. The CESUs facilitate collaboration among research institution and federal agency partners to address federal agency natural and cultural resource management issues at multiple scales. Research institutions provide the biological, physical, social, cultural, and engineering disciplines necessary to support informed decision making. The multidisciplinary structure of CESUs makes them well-suited to address federal agency needs for sustainability science.

Who We Are

The South Florida and Caribbean Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (SFC CESU) was established in 2000 under the leadership of the Department of the Interior and has led to the partnership of nine federal agencies and 21 academic institutions and non-government organizations. Together, the SFC CESU partners support a regional approach to ecosystem science and adaptive management that emphasize natural and cultural resource understanding and protection at the landscape/seascape scale. SFC CESU members have an international reputation for excellence in the study of marine environments and their research ecosystems include the terrestrial and coastal ecosystems of South Florida (Everglades, Florida Bay, Ten Thousand Islands Area, Biscayne Bay), the marine resources including the Florida Keys from the Dry Tortugas to West Palm Beach, and the marine and terrestrial resources of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Meet the SFC CESU Team

Our Mission

The SFC CESU fosters and facilitates collaborative activities among its federal and non-federal members in the areas of research, technical assistance, and educational activities to provide usable knowledge for addressing resource management issues. SFC CESU partnerships are effectively created and maintained through the sharing of resources and expertise, and member professional development is encouraged to foster current and future federal scientists, resource managers, and environmental leaders.

Our Goal

SFC CESU’s goal is to support and facilitate research, education, and stewardship by the partner organizations working in the South Florida and Caribbean region in the areas of natural, cultural, social, and built-environment management.

Cooperative Agreements

2015 Agreement
Amendment 1 – adding the Avian Research and Conservation Institute and Florida A&M University
Amendment 2 – adding the Bureau of Indian Affairs
2010 Agreement
Amendment 1 – adding the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense – Installations and Environment, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Ocean Research and Conservation Association
Amendment 2 – adding the Cetacean Logic Foundation, Inc.
Amendment 3– adding the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
2005 Agreement
Amendment 1 – adding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Civil Works
Amendment 2 – adding Institute for Regional Conservation and Florida Institute of Technology
Amendment 3 – adding the Everglades Foundation and University of South Florida
Amendment 4 – adding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
2000 Agreement
Amendment 1 – adding Florida Atlantic University
Amendment 2 – adding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Amendment 3 – adding the Natural Resources Conservation Service


2016 Strategic Plan – A multi-year plan of regional research areas and goals
2016 Annual Work Plan – A guide to SFC CESU’s specific activities including research, projects, and member information