One of the goals of the Tampa Bay National Estuary Program (TBNEP) is to acquire information necessary for maintaining or improving the condition of the estuary's natural resources. The purpose of the project was to characterize habitat types critical to the survival of endemic fish and wildlife species. This information will be used to guide the development of effective strategies for habitat restoration and protection and to identify information necessary for future management decisions. Two general life history patterns emerged from the species summaries. Some species, including spotted seatrout, clown goby, striped killifish, manatee, hard clam and American oyster remain in the estuary their entire life cycle. Others, such as blue crabs, striped mullet, tarpon, spot, and pink shrimp spawn just outside the estuary or some distance offshore. Currents or tides transport eggs, larvae or juveniles of these species back into the estuary. In either situation, the estuary serves as a nursery area for larval and juvenile stages of these species and as a forage area for subadults and adults. Degradation of nursery habitats or forage areas within the estuary could seriously affect the populations of many of these species.