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Project Work Plan

Department of Interior USGS GE PES
Fiscal Year 2012 Study Work Plan

Study Title: Joint Ecosystem Modeling: Greater Everglades Modeling Decision Support Tools and Ecosystem Models at IMC
Study Start Date: 01 October 2011
Study End Date: 30 September 2012, with possibility of future funding tied to progress
Duration: 12 months
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): The boundaries for Joint Ecosystem Modeling are system-wide and include the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative.
Funding Source: GE PES
Other Complementary Funding Sources: NPS provides staff time
Principal Investigator: Stephanie S. Romañach, USGS, Southeastern Ecological Science Center
Study Personnel: Craig Conzelmann, USGS; Don DeAngelis, USGS; Jerry Lorenz, National Audubon Society; Dale Gawlik, Florida Atlantic University; Laura Brandt, USFWS; Nate Dorn, Florida Atlantic University; Leonard Pearlstine, NPS; Carl Fitz, University of Florida; Doug Donalson, USACE
Supporting Organizations: University of Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, USGS, NPS, USFWS, USACE, SFWMD
Associated / Linked Studies: Climate envelope modeling for evaluating anticipated effects of climate change on threatened and endangered species in the Greater Everglades; Across Trophic Level System Simulation; Southwest Florida Feasibility Study

Overview & Objective(s): Statement of Problem:

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 Restoration Plan (CERP). Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) 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 are integrated.

The objectives for JEM are to: 1) facilitate coordination among investigators working on ecological models, 2) develop tools that "get ecological models into the hands of users", 3) link ecological models to hydrologic models

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified:

Our work 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.


JEM was conceived in response to the need for ecological models to be accessible in the decision process in a timely manner. Interagency collaboration was determined to be an effective mechanism to accomplish this task.

Roles are as follows:

Planned Products:


Wading bird modeling

The purpose of this effort is to compare spatially and temporally explicit wading bird habitat suitability models (used in the Greater Everglades) with direct models of wading bird nest numbers (used in Australia). This comparison will be done by evaluating the data requirements, environmental conditions, and other constraints under which the wading bird nesting model was applied in Australia's Macquarie Marshes and contrast the modeling approaches of wading bird habitat suitability models and nest population models with models presently being used in Florida.

EverVIEW v.2.0

Natural resource managers in the Greater Everglades have expressed their need to view and manipulate ecological modeling data on their desktop computers. EverVIEW offers the ability to instantiate multiple mapping panels, each of which can be populated with different datasets allowing the end-user to spatially compare modeling inputs and outputs, or multiple restoration plans at once. Version 2 of this software will have a Statistics Extension which allows the user to generate simple statistics (min, max, mean, std dev, avg) for data loaded on the globe. A new Transect Extension will be released graphing the relationship between stage(s) and elevation for a transect drawn upon the globe by the user. Additionally, location tracking will be expanded to include point, line, poly-line, and polygon support. Users will still be able to add tracking objects using the globe, but file support for ESRI shapefile and Google KML is being added.

Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative climate scenarios

The research will be to expand the socioeconomic and climate scenarios previously developed for south Florida by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The scenarios cover the lower 30 counties of Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) boundary. This will require the engagement of stakeholders through workshops and individual consultations. The technical assistance will be to work with the PFLCC coordinator, scientists and steering committee to develop priority conservation areas within the scenarios. This will be done for both habitats and species through coordination with FWS staff and other experts. This first year will involve creating a revised series of alternative future scenarios that reflect the PFLCC geography (including four major drivers: climate change, population pressure, public financial resources, and planning policies) and will include holding stakeholder workshops in added counties.

Amphibian model

In FY11 we developed v1.0.0 of an amphibian community species richness model for the spatial domain of EDEN using 10 species of amphibians. In FY12 we will complete v.2.0.0, which takes the science of the model a step further by using the Habitat Suitability Index as a probability to get real stochasticity in occurrence. We plan to hold a workshop with species experts and users to review the model output b efore release.

Model Documentation Standards

As we work more closely with partner agencies, we have determined a need for a Greater Everglades community wide standard for model documentation development, review, testing, and versioning processes. During FY11, we developed a documented standard for fixed grid. In FY12 we will produce a documented standard for variable mesh.

Modeling support for Central Everglades Planning Process

Initiation of the Central Everglades Planning Process (CEPP) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will begin in early FY12. The CEPP focuses on third generation (next phase) of CERP projects for the central Everglades region as a national pilot project in the Corps' streamlined planning process. The first phase of the CEPP is a three month scoping process during which time a team will be identified to determine which ecological models (among many other analytical tools) will be used to inform the process. JEM will participate in preparing models and tools for use in the CEPP, and in actually running models to produce output during the process.