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Project Work Plan

Department of Interior USGS GE PES
Fiscal Year 2014 Study Work Plan

Study Title: Joint Ecosystem Modeling: Greater Everglades Modeling Decision Support Tools and Ecosystem Models
Current Study Start Date: 01 October 2010 Current Study End Date: 30 September 2014, with possibility of future funding tied to progress
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park, or Refuge): The boundaries for Joint Ecosystem Modeling focus on Greater Everglades needs, but resources considered often span throughout the southeastern US.
Funding Source: GEPES, also contributions by NPS and the Peninsular Florida LCC
Funding History: FY13
FY14 USGS Funding:
Principal Investigator: Stephanie S. Romañach
Supporting Organizations: Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, University of Florida, USFWS, NPS, USACE, SFWMD

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 Restoration Plan (CERP). Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) will continue its responsibility of developing ecological models and performing initial 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:

flow chart showing integration of the Interagency Modeling Center and Joint Ecosystem Modeling
Figure 1. Integration of the Interagency Modeling Center (IMC) and Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM).

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified:

JEM activities support the DOI Science Plan as they: 1) provide 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 model impacts of hydrologic targets on ecological conditions and critical links between hydrology, water quality and ecological responses; 3) model 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) provide GIS mapping for habitat database of hydrologic restoration contributions to listed species; and 5) aid in the identification of key indicators of desired ecological responses.

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

Landscape-Scale Modeling


Improved ecological models


Integrated hydrology / water quality / ecology models


Improved accessibility of modeling data


Spatially explicit habitat suitability index models: indicator species sensitive to hydrologic change


Incorporation of models into the monitoring and adaptive assessment program

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.

Planned Products for FY14:

Work Plan

Online data management and visualization platform

In FY13, JEM developed the framework for a database with the vision of housing biological monitoring data collected in the Greater Everglades. Staff from our partner agencies in Everglades restoration as well as the interested public will be able to click on points scattered over a map interface showing the information researchers have collected throughout the region. FY14 will begin with a presentation to partner agencies (NPS, FWS) to understand further needs for development of the database and functionalities to be added. In its basic form, users will be able to see data on bird communities in the Everglades, locations of invasive python activity, and nesting grounds of endangered wood storks and sea turtles, to name a few. In FY14, we will work with some additional Principal Investigators (PIs) to get their data prepared for display in the database. Some new data will include regional small mammal data for a new project to begin in late FY14 and snail kite observations.

EverVIEW development

Natural resource managers in the Greater Everglades long expressed a need to view and manipulate ecological modeling data on their desktop computers. We developed EverVIEW in response. 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. We will continue to develop EverVIEW to meet the Greater Everglades modeling community and decision making needs.

We will also leverage funding received by JEM for Hurricane Sandy work to investigate the potential for development of 'EverVIEW lite' which would be a web-based application (as an alternative to the desktop download version) and could be used in the Everglades. This is something requested by EverVIEW users and Sandy funds should make this possible.

Modeling support for Central Everglades Planning Process

JEM assists with Central Everglades Planning Process modeling needs, from data conversion to model runs and interpretation. We will continue to meet CEPP decision making needs with modeling output. In FY14 we are beginning to work with Dean Monette of Florida Atlantic University to help develop an exotic apple snail population model as a compliment to the existing native snail population model already used in CEPP. We are working (with Laura Brandt, FWS and Frank Mazzotti, UF) to complete the development of a crocodile habitat suitability model that will be evaluated by USACE to be used as an official performance measure.

Task Leaders: Stephanie S. Romañach
Phone: 754.264.6060
FAX: none
Task priority: bird surveys and fish & invertebrate sampling
Task Personnel: Mark McKelvy

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Last updated: 08 December, 2015 @ 12:21 PM (KP)