projects > development of integrated sampling of fishes in forested wetlands in south florida with emphasis on food web structure
Development of Integrated Sampling of Fishes in Forested Wetlands in South Florida with Emphasis on Food Web Structure
|This study seeks to refine sampling methodology, collect baseline data for aquatic animals, and begin studies of food-web structure in South Florida wetlands.
Forested wetlands, mainly comprised by mangrove and cypress swamps in South Florida, and contiguous marshes formerly functioned as critical feeding and nesting sites for wading birds, populations of which have declined precipitously in coincidence with changes to the hydrology of the region. Human-induced changes have affected the natural variability of environmental conditions through the construction of canals and levees that can either act to drain or flood wetlands. These changes are hypothesized to have negatively affected the production and availability of fish prey for the birds. A major target of restoration is the reestablishment of the natural hydrological conditions in the wetlands. Another alteration to these systems has been the introduction of more than 10 species of non-native fishes.
The Big Cypress Swamp and mangrove ecosystems have been affected by these anthropogenic activities, yet the effects are unclear because of the lack of study. In both ecosystems, there is little quantitative information on the community composition, size-structure, and biomass of fishes and macro-invertebrates because few studies have been carried out there. This is especially true in the forested habitats of those ecosystems. Reasons for lack of study include logistical problems such as access to study areas, and difficulties in devising appropriate sampling methods and feasible designs. However, because of the scope of anthropogenic changes in hydrology in the drainage basins, there can be little doubt that the standing stocks of aquatic animals and habitat use have been affected negatively. This study proposal seeks to refine sampling methodology in the forested wetlands, to collect baseline data for aquatic animals to enable comparisons between CERP and non-CERP impacted wetlands, and to begin studies of food-web structure in cypress and mangrove wetlands.