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Interrelation of Everglades Hydrology and Florida Bay Dynamics to Ecosystem Processes and Restoration in South Florida

Project Proposal for 1999

Project Title: Interrelation of Everglades hydrology and Florida Bay dynamics on the ecosystem of south Florida: Ecological Component (Addendum to the Hydrology Component).

Geographic Area: south Florida
Project start date: October 1, 1998
Project end date: September 30, 2000

Project chief: (Team Coordinator) Raymond W. Schaffranek
Ecological Component Lead: Thomas J. Smith III
Region/Center/Branch: ER/BRD/Florida Caribbean Science Center/Restoration Ecology Branch
Email: Tom_J_Smith@usgs.gov or smithtj@fiu.edu
Phone: (305)348-1267
Fax: (305) 348-4096
Mail address: USGS/BRD. Restoration Ecology Branch, c/o SERP, OE-148, Florida International Universily, Miami FL 33199

Program(s): Integrated Natural Resource Science (INATURES) Program
Program element(s)/task(s): Element 1/Task 1.1

Project Summary: The biotic resources of the Taylor Slough and northeast Florida Bay regions of Everglades National Park will respond to the physical forcing functions of their environment. The dominant physical forcings are primarily hydrological and include hydroperiod, hydropattern and flow. Fire is an important component in the freshwater and coastal marshes of Taylor Slough and may have an important feedback loop to hydrological forcings by altering the vegetation resistance to flow. By decreasing vegetative biomass, fire may increase flow rates. Hurricanes are more important to the fringing mangrove forests of Florida Bay. Numerous anthropogenic changes have affected the region of the Southern Inland and Coastal Systems (SICS), primarily water diversion which have altered both hydroperiod and hydropattern in the marshes of southeastern ENP and for the downstream embayments of Florida Bay. For the most part water has been moved out of Taylor Slough and to the east into the South Dade Conveyance System (the C-111 and associated canals). Numerous local, state, and Fedderal agencies are working to find both operational and structural means of improving water deliveries to Everglades NP and Florida Bay (and in fact the entire Everglades Protection Area). Biotic resources within the SICS study area include federally listed species such as the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (CSSS), American Crocodile, Wood Stork, and Roseatte Spoonbill, to name but a few. The CSSS has it's largest colony within the northwestern portion of the SICS study area with smaller colonies to the north and east of Taylor Slough. Ecological simulation models of the CSSS (and other important ecological components of the south Florida landscape) have been developed as part of BRD's Across Trophic Level System Simulation program (ATLSS). The ATLSS program is currently being expanded to include the mangrove forests along the coast of ENP. The ATLSS models have been an integral part of assessing the various restoration scenarios proposed under the Central and South Florida Project Comprehensive Review (the "Restudy"). This ecological synthesis project will integrate the numerous autecological floral and faunal studies which have been conducted over the years within the SICS area. Particular attention will be paid to defining and constructing longterm datasets which will have the potential to measure changes and be integrated with the hydrodynamic models currently being developed. These datasets, when fully developed, will be used to assess change within the study area as related to past management practices and to guide the development of future environmental management scenarios as related to the Central and South Florida Project Review. Importantly, linkages will be developed between WRDs hydrological modeling efforts within the SICS area and the BRD's ATLSS modeling program. This linkage is crucial because both the SICS hydrology model and the ATLSS ecology models operate at a spatial resolution much finer than, the South Florida Water Management Model (SFWMM). SFWMM operates at a 2x2 mile grid cell resolution. Both ATLSS mud SICS operate at approximately a 500x500m resolution. Thus ATLSS and SICS have the ability to differentiate environmental factors at finer, and thus more accurate resolution.

Project objectives and strategy: The SICS project is producing a comprehensive model to simulate hydrological condition in Taylor Slough and the northeastern embayments of Florida Bay. The goal of this Ecological Synthesis project will be to develop historical datasets of key biotic components within the SICS study area to link to the output of the hydrological models. The primary datasets will concern change in vegetative communities within the SICS study area over time. Numerous studies have measured vegetative composition (species, density, biomass) of the various communities in the SICS area (see bibliography). Furthermore, vegetation change has been documented within the coastal mangrove fringe and the marsh communities on time scales relevant to the SICS hydrological modeling effort. Additionally there are several longterm datasets regarding faunal components of the SICS area (wading birds, freshwater and estuarine fish) which can also be used in the synthesis effort. We propose to develop datasets concerning long term vegetative and faunal change within the SICS region. These will be related to output from the hydrological model in both ãhindcastä and ãforecastä modes. An example of an expected analysis will be to examine longterm vegetative change in the main CSSS area in response to hydrology. This area is of special concern in the Restudy. This effort will also provide for tests and validation/verification of the CSSS component of the ATLSS program. The first objective of this ecological synthesis will be to summarize and analyze historical biotic data to produce datasets capable of being "meshedä with the hydrological model. The second objective is to produce relationships between the various hydrological parameters and biotic components of the system. In addition to producing peer-reviewed publications by individual scientists in relevant disciplinary journals, a synthesis document will be produced jointly with the hydrology component of this research. In the first year, compilation of relevant biotic datasets will be completed. In the second year we will relate these biotic datasets to the output of the hydrological model in both hindcast and forecast modes. This will include producing common datasets and products for publication, integration of biotic and hydrologic studies, and generation of draft synthesis report components for scientific review and editing. The second and third years will be spent with detailed syntheses of biotic relationships to hydrology. The final report which will incorporate ecological and biotic components of the system will be completed, in conjunction with the hydrology component at the end of the third year.

Potential impacts and major products: The dependence of changes in the flora and fauna of the SICS study area on hydrology will be explored in this research, modeling and synthesis effort. Importantly, we will attempt to resolve variation which is ãnaturalä and variation which is a result of ãmanagementä and thus can be controlled or altered. Analyses will couple the hydrological and ecological components. Management concerns for the biotic resources of the SICS area include: 1) decreased freshwater inflow into northeastern Florida Bay leading to increased salinity; 2) shifting water castward (to the C-111) such that portions of the bay may in fact be fresher; and, 3) altering the timing and amount of water delivered to Taylor Slough; which changes vegetative communities, particularly the short hydroperiod, Muhlenburgia prairies needed by the CSSS. The refereed journal papers and synthesis document will provide needed information to the resource management community concerning the relationships of the biotic resources of this critical region of Everglades NP with the hydrological forcing functions which are under management control.

Collaborators, clients: Biological investigations within the SICS region are currently being undertaken by a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, including: Dade Envirommiental Resources Management, Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, Florida Marine Research Institute, South Florida Water Management District, National Marine Fisheries Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, the Biological Resources Division of USGS, and universities such as the University of Florida, Florida International University and the University of Miami.  Non-governmental organizations such as the National Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy also conduct biological investigations monitoring within the project area. The Nationa1 Park Service provides funding via the Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative in addition to logistical support. Information developed through this synthesis effort will benefit all of these groups. Additionally, all groups interested in the south Florida ecosystem restoration (tourists, farmers, those in the hospitality industry, residents) will be helped by the results derived in this synthesis.

Names and expertise of key project staff:
All named Principal Investigators have conducted research within the SICS project boundary
Donald DeAngelis, BRD - manager, Across Trophic Level System Simulation (ATLSS)
William F. Loftus, BRD - freshwater fish ecology and contaminants
Carole C. McIvor, BRD - estuarine faunal ecology
Ken Rice, BRD - herpetology, crocodile and alligator biology
Michael B. Robblee, BRD - seagrass ecosystems
Thomas J. Smith, BRD - wetlands ecology, freshwater and mangrove
James Snyder, BRD - fire ecology

Required expertise for which no individual has been identified:
Landscape Ecologist (FY98-00)

Major equipment/facility needs:


Craighead, F.C. 1971. The Trees of south Florida, Vol. 1. University of Miami Press. 189pp.

Craighead, F.C. & V.C. Gilbert. 1962. The effects of Hurricane Donna on the vegetation of south Florida. Quart. J. Fla. Acad. Sci. (now Florida Scientist): 25: 1-28.

Davis, J.H. Jr. 1940. The ecology and geologic role of mangroves in Florida. Papers of the Tortugas Laboratory, 32: 303-412.

Egler, F.F. 1952. The southeast saline Everglades vegetation, Florida and its management. Vegetatio Acta Geobotanica (now Vegetatio), 3: 213-265.

Enos, P. 1989. Islands in the bay - a key habitat of Florida Bay. Bull. Mar, Sd. 44: 365-386.

Herndon, A. & D. Taylor. 1986. Response of Mublenbergia Prairie to Repeated Burning: Changes in Above-ground Biomass. South Florida Natural Resources Center, Everglades National Park, Report SFRC-86/05

Krauss, P. 1987. Old Field Succession in Everglades National Park. South Florida Natural Resources Center, Everglades National Park. Report SFRC-87103.

Moeder, J.F., M.S. Ross, G. Telesnicki, P.L. Rniz & J.P. Shah. 1996. Vegetation analysis in the C-111 / Taylor Slough Basin. Final Report to the South Florida Natural Resources Center, Everglades National Park Contract C4244.

Small, J.K. 1904. Report upon further explorations of southern Florida. J. NY Botanical Garden 5:157-164.

Small, J.K. 1907. Explorations of south Florida. J. NY Botanical Garden 8: 23-28.

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