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Project Work Plan

Department of Interior USGS GE PES

Fiscal Year 2008 Study Work Plan

Study Title: Scientific and Technical Support for a Joint Ecosystem Modeling Laboratory
Study Start Date: FY 05/06 (Year 1); FY 06/07 (Year 2); FY 07/08 (Year 3); FY 08/09 (Year 4); FY 09/10 (Year 5)
Study End Date: FY09/10
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): The boundaries for the Joint Ecosystem Modeling Laboratory are system-wide and include all of the boundaries defined by the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, and the Multi-Species Recovery Plan.
Principal Investigator(s): Kenneth Rice, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, Gainesville, FL
Project Officer: G. Ronnie Best, U.S. Geological Survey, Priority Ecosystems Studies Program, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Study Personnel: Don DeAngelis, USGS; Jerry Lorenz, National Audubon Society; Dale Gawlik, Florida Atlantic University; Greg Kiker, University of Florida, Frank Mazzotti, University of Florida; Laura Brandt, USFWS; Nate Dorn, Florida Atlantic University; Leonard Pearlstine, University of Florida, Carl Fitz, University of Florida
Supporting Organizations: University of Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, USGS, USNPS, USFWS, USACOE, SFWMD
Associated / Linked Studies: Across Trophic Level System Simulation, Southwest Florida Feasibility Study

Overview & Objective(s): Ecosystem models are needed for evaluation and assessment of alternatives for restoration of Greater Everglades ecosystems. We need to determine current capabilities, and current and future needs for ecosystem models. Project evaluation will require the ability to compare restoration alternatives using quantitative and visual methods, and to convey the information learned to the appropriate user. The Interagency Modeling Center (IMC) has the responsibility to approve and apply hydrological and ecological models in support of the Comprehensive Everglades Plan (CERP). The Joint Ecosystem Modeling Laboratory (JEM Lab) will continue its responsibility of developing models and performing initial scenario evaluations as part of the process of testing, calibrating, validating, verifying, and improving models. Figure 1 shows how the IMC and JEM Lab are being integrated.

The objectives for the JEM Lab for FY 08/09 (Year 4) are: 1) to develop methods of scenario evaluation and decision support, and 2) provide oversight and coordination of modeling activities.

Project Background and Relation to CERP: A key component of CERP is the requirement for ecosystem models for project evaluation and assessment. Project evaluation includes forecasting effects of restoration alternatives and provides a basis for comparing alternatives. Project assessment occurs post project and requires more quantitative models of performance measures as a basis for setting restoration targets and assessing progress. The role of the JEM Lab is to provide research and development of ecosystem models to meet evaluation and assessment needs.

Flowchart showing Integration of the Interagency Modeling Center and the Joint Ecosystem Modeling Laboratory

Figure 1. Integration of the Interagency Modeling Center (IMC) and the Joint Ecosystem Modeling Laboratory (JEM Lab). [larger version]

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified:

Relevance to DOI Science Plan: The study supports the DOI Science Plan by developing integrated evaluation and assessment tools to support landscape scale and project level decision-making.

The study supports the DOI Science Plan as it: 1) provides assessment tools that are a critical priority for making landscape level restoration decisions that consider multiple species or trophic levels or that maximize biodiversity with an ecological system; 2) spatially models impacts of hydrologic targets on ecological conditions and critical links between hydrology, water quality and ecological responses; 3) models how hydrologic and water quality targets relate to the landscape-scale assemblages of habitats needed to support fish and wildlife resources and particularly wide-ranging species; 4) provides geographic information system mapping for habitat database of hydrologic restoration contributions to listed species; and 5) aids in the identification of key indicators of desired ecological responses.

Specifically, this study supports the following science plan information needs:

Landscape-Scale Modeling
Critical Improved ecological models
Critical Integrated hydrology / water quality / ecology models
Critical Improved accessibility of modeling data
Critical Spatially explicit habitat suitability index models: indicator species sensitive to hydrologic change
Critical Incorporation of models into the monitoring and adaptive assessment program

This study supports information needs for activities that impact ecological communities. The decision aids and methodologies for decision-making are implicit in the DOI Science Plan which requires that gathered science be integrated and applied to restoration. The ecological modeling, synthesis of science information, and application of decision aids specifically supports CERP as it (1) helps with prioritization of science resource allocations; (2) helps decision-makers in establishing specific goals and objectives in the context of conflicting priorities and adaptive management; and (3) provides a systematic and documented procedure to evaluating alternatives for what actions will restore, protect, and manage natural resources in South Florida.

Relevance to MAP: This study supports the applied science strategy for monitoring and assessment plans by providing a quantitative approach for integrating hydrological and ecological models to establish targets for performance measures as defined by the Conceptual Ecological Models (CEM). Figure 2 shows the relationship of ecosystem models to MAP and CEM's.

Flowchart showing the relationship of ecosystem models to the conceptual ecological models and the Monitoring and Assessment Plan

Figure 2. Relationship of ecosystem models to the conceptual ecological models and the Monitoring and Assessment Plan. [larger version]

Status: Modeling work on wading birds and roseate spoonbills has continued during FY07. In addition, JEM Lab staff has played a role in delivery of products for the Everglades Depth Estimation (EDEN) project. Many of the JEM Lab activities were presented at a session on Ecosystem Modeling organized for the 2nd National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration.

Development of an interface to integrate and compare multiple hydrological and ecological models for multiple alternatives for restoration of greater Everglades ecosystems continued. Major improvements to the interface have been made to incorporate NetCDF support into the interface. All interface outputs will be 100% compatible with ESRI products, and other applications. Multiple alternatives can be shown, both graphically and numerically.

Dialog has continued between University of Tennessee and Everglades National Park on transfer of the ATLSS models to south Florida. In addition, the IMC has confirmed they have the appropriate computer hardware and are willing to work with JEM Lab staff on transferring the models. There are still issues in running the ATLSS high resolution hydrology in south Florida. Doug Donalson (ENP) is working with Don DeAngelis and University of Tennessee staff to resolve the issues.

Recent Products: In FY07, 1 peer-reviewed journal articles and 1 major technical report were published. We also gave several presentations at Local, National and International Conferences and 1 additional manuscript were submitted to peer-reviewed journals.

Planned Products: During FY08 several reports and manuscripts will be produced on modeling completed for wading birds, roseate spoonbills, crocodiles, and crayfish. It is anticipated that these manuscripts will be part of a dedicated issue of a journal (target is Southeastern Naturalist). In addition, the user interface and models will be used in the context of Everglades decision making via interaction with project delivery teams in workshop format. At least three workshops will be conducted. The Everglades Landscape Model (ELM) will be modified to provide 500 m hydrology based on Water Management Model output, which can then be used as input to other ecological models. Training for a variety of agency personnel will be conducted on the use of the ELM. The result will be a number of individuals who are capable of preparing, running, and interpreting output from the regional ELM, either at the 500 or 1000 m grid scales.


Task 1: JEM administration and oversight
Task Funding:
USGS Priority Ecosystems Science
Task Leader: Laura Brandt
Time Frame for Task 1: FY 05-10
Task Personnel: Don DeAngelis, Ronnie Best, Frank Mazzotti, Laura Brandt, Ken Rice

Task Summary and Objectives: Administration and oversight of the JEM Lab will be a complex task that will require coordination among the different entities involved, and may on occasion require outside expertise and advice. The purpose of this task is to form an organizing council to oversee the JEM Lab and to determine needs for and to perform administration, oversight, and review.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: The organizing council will continue selected current projects (see task 2) and initiate new projects with a small group of principal investigators. The council will provide oversight and review of all projects.

Specific Task Product(s):

Product Delivery Date
1st progress report Month 4
2nd progress report Month 8
Annual report/fact sheet Month 12

Task 2: Develop approaches and models to evaluate alternatives for ecosystem restoration and to communicate results to decision and policy makers.
Task Leaders: Don DeAngelis, Laura Brandt
Time Frame for Task 2: FY 05-09 (2.1, 05-08; 2.2, 06-08; 2.3, 05-08, 2.4, 05-08; 2.5, 07-09; 2.6, 05-09)
Task Personnel: Jerry Lorenz, Greg Kiker, Leonard Pearlstine, Dale Gawlik, Frank Mazzotti

Task Summary and Objectives: The applied science strategy for restoration of Greater Everglades ecosystems requires that alternatives be evaluated and compared for their impacts on natural systems and that ecosystem response to selected alternatives be assessed. It is important to not only do scenario evaluation and assessment but to be able to communicate information to the correct consumer. The objectives of this task are to develop models and methods for scenario evaluation and assessment and to craft a decision support system to transfer evaluations and assessments of restoration alternatives to decision makers.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: The work to be undertaken in FY 07/08 (Year 3) is divided into the following subtasks.

Subtask 2.1: Note - Under reduced funding for FY08 this subtask will not be continued. Response of roseate spoonbills nesting in Florida bay to hydrologic restoration: A performance measure of Everglades restoration - This project is designed to evaluate effects of hydrologic restoration on nesting distribution and success of Roseate Spoonbills (Ajaia ajaia) in Florida Bay and surrounding mangrove estuarine habitats. 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.

The primary objectives of this task are to (1) quantify the changes in spatial distribution and success of nesting spoonbills relative to hydrologic patterns, (2) test hypotheses about the causal mechanisms for observed changes, (3) establish a science-based criteria for nesting distribution and success to be used as a performance measure for hydrologic restoration, and (4) estimate demographic parameters. To meet these objectives, we will use a combined field/modeling approach. Based on previous and concurrent research, hypothesized relationships between hydrology, fish populations, and spoonbill nesting distribution and success will be expressed in a simple, but spatially explicit, conceptual model.

Subtask 2.2: Note - Under reduced funding for FY08 this subtask will not be continued. Decision support tools for adaptive ecosystem management - The conceptual foundations of risk and uncertainty are based in the fields of engineering (e.g., structural and nuclear engineering) and the environmental sciences related to chemical pollution (e.g., environmental toxicology). More recently, interest has been building to apply these same principles and approaches to a broader collection of environmental problems (e.g., habitat loss, modification and restoration, natural resource management, threatened and endangered species management). Along with increased interest for a broader application of structured, systematic and quantitative assessment, emphasis is also being given to performing such evaluations within an adaptive or comparative framework to provide a more comprehensive analysis of management alternatives being considered by decision makers. New adaptive decision frameworks are being designed to integrate information about risk, uncertainty, ecological processes and endpoints, socioeconomic factors and stakeholder values to organize and structure decision processes. Given that both stakeholders and outside reviewers are increasingly requiring that risk and uncertainty be clearly articulated in model simulations and decision-making, a systematic multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) framework would be useful within adaptive management efforts to complement on-going model development and integration activities. The specific objectives of the subtask are (1) Establish and test a set of decision management/support tools (including both software and hardware) to integrate discipline-specific information and decision preferences within the DAMP and (2) Facilitate several meetings or small workshops to introduce MCDA principles and to establish the DAMP decision objectives, criteria and ecosystem information into an MCDA decision software framework.

Subtask 2.3: Note - Under reduced funding for FY08 this subtask will not be continued. Computer Simulation Modeling of Wading Birds of the Everglades/Big Cypress Region - The restoration of the Everglades and conservation of wading birds requires understanding how different water management strategies will affect foraging and breeding success of wading birds. We propose to use long term research and monitoring data on wading birds in southern Florida to complete a landscape model to evaluate restoration alternatives in Everglades wetlands and to extend the model to Big Cypress wetlands.

Subtask 2.4: Note - Under reduced funding for FY08 this subtask will not be continued. Habitat suitability model for Everglades crayfish - Habitat suitability models for crayfish (Everglades crayfish, Procambarus alleni and Slough crayfish, Procambarus fallax) will be useful for comparing restoration alternatives in the Everglades. These species make up a significant fraction of the invertebrate biomass in the Everglades sloughs and prairies and can dominate invertebrate biomass in some shorter hydroperiod wetlands. They have been listed as critical features of the secondary production linked to success of wading birds and other fauna. The existing crayfish index model was developed in 1998. Since then, a number of field studies have been completed that provide new information for improved modeling of both species. Developing spatially and temporally explicit HSI models that predict relative crayfish abundance from environmental drivers (e.g., hydrology) is the objective of this project.

Subtask 2.5: Ecological assessment models - Once alternatives are selected, plans developed, and projects implemented, we have to address the question: are we successful? Is the ecosystem responding as we think it should? The Everglades' Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP) is designed to address those questions. An important component of the MAP is establishing performance measures for ecosystem restoration and targets for those performance measures. The purpose of this subtask is to develop assessment models that will forecast responses of selected performance measures to restoration plans in a manner that is testable through research and monitoring. These assessments models also can be used to set hypothetical targets for restoration.

Subtask 2.6: Note - Under reduced funding for FY08 this subtask will not be continued. User interface - A graphically-based, spatially referenced interface will be developed to integrate hydrological and ecological models. The interface will be able to input and output a variety of formats including ATLSS, ESRI grid, and ASCII files. The interface will allow users to compare multiple alternatives including current conditions and no action. The output will be graphical, with maps designating areas where change occurred and numerical. Since the interface will be spatially referenced, it also will generate habitat units in terms of area affected. An additional feature of the interface will be a project based accounting system for comparing alternatives. This relational database will link numerical and graphical outputs in a manner designed to facilitate retrieval, display, and evaluation.

Specific Task Product(s):

Product Delivery Date
1st progress report Month 4
2nd progress report Month 8
Annual report/fact sheet Month 12

Work to be undertaken during future FY's and proposed funding:

This work is intended to be completed in FY10. Funding is proposed to continue at FY07 levels.

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:09 PM(KP)