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Ecology of the Greater Everglades (Roseate Spoonbill and Limpkins)

photo of roseate spoonbill
Project Investigators: Jerome J. Lorenz, Robert E. Bennetts

Project Start Date: 2003 End Date: 2004


This project will quantify the changes in spatial distribution and success of nesting spoonbills relative to hydrologic patterns, test hypotheses about the causal mechanisms for observed changes, establish a science-based criteria for nesting distribution and success, and estimate demographic parameters.

Our project is designed to evaluate the effect of hydrologic restoration on the nesting distribution and success of Roseate Spoonbills (Ajaia ajaia) in Florida Bay and surrounding mangrove estuarine habitats. This project is further designed to test hypotheses about the causal mechanisms of observed changes. The Everglades ecosystem has suffered extensive degradation over the past century, including an 85-90% decrease in the numbers of wading birds. Previous monitoring of Roseate Spoonbills in Florida Bay over the past 50 years has shown that this species responds markedly to changes in hydrology and corresponding changes in prey abundance and availability. Shifts in nesting distribution and declines in nest success have been attributed to declines in prey populations as a direct result of water management. Consequently, the re-establishment of spoonbill colonies in northeast Florida Bay is one change predicted under a conceptual model of the mangrove estuarine transition zone of Florida Bay. Changes in nesting distribution and success will further be used as a performance measure for success of restoration efforts and will be incorporated in a model linking mangrove fish populations and spoonbills to alternative hydrologic scenarios.

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill courtesy of Brennan Mulrooney. [larger version]

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