Florida supports an extraordinary diversity of animals. With roughly 900 species of freshwater and land vertebrates, and an even larger number of invertebrates and marine species, Florida is among the most biologically rich states in the U.S. Centuries of changes wrought upon the Florida landscape by humans, however, have placed many of these animals, including some that occur nowhere else, in dire jeopardy. Consequently, 111 species of corals, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals have been formally recognized by the state and federal governments as of critical conservation concern (Endangered, Threatened, or Species of Special Concern). Still other species face equal or greater threats to their survival but remain unrepresented on legal lists.

The Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI), collects, interprets, and disseminates ecological information critical to the conservation of Florida's biological diversity. As part of this effort, FNAI maintains detailed geographic and literature databases documenting the status of hundreds of species of rare animals. This field guide assimilates these data and other sources to make available to the public a simple means of identifying Florida's rare species and understanding their conservation needs.

Although field guides exist for several taxonomic groups (e.g., reptiles, birds, mammals) of Florida's fauna, no single volume addresses all major groups. The Field Guide to the Rare Animals of Florida provides identifying characteristics, distribution, habitat, and conservation information for Florida's rare animals in a single, field-oriented volume. We hope that the Guide will be useful to field biologists, land managers, environmental decision-makers, educators, land owners, and others concerned with Florida's imperiled natural resources.

We request that those using this Guide contact FNAI with corrections and new occurrences so that such information can be incorporated into future editions as well as FNAI's statewide database.