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The Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN), developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) with collaborators from universities and other agencies, is a powerful tool for water managers, scientists, decision-makers, and engineers working on the South Florida Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration. "The greatest challenge in evaluating restoration efforts and the response and effectiveness of changes in managing water flow, such as water depth and hydroperiod [duration of inundation or saturation] in specific areas, is having a network of data that can show us, in one glance, how and where changes affected the hydrology. EDEN is the tool that does that," said Barry Rosen, director of the USGS Florida Integrated Science Center.
The EDEN Web site contains a set of integrated data for 253 gages that describe the water depths throughout Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and the Water Conservation Areas. Data from these areas are combined with USGS data in the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) database and then provided in near-real time to water managers, our Department of the Interior partners (such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District, and the general public. The data also have been used to create daily models of the water surface covering the greater Everglades. These modeled water surfaces are available as geographic-information-system (GIS) layers from January 1, 2000, through the present. The EDEN data, models, and documentation are available on the EDEN Web site.
Among the target users of EDEN are biologists and ecologists examining trophic-level responses to hydrodynamic changes in the Everglades. Dale Gawlik, an ecologist and director of the Environmental Sciences Program at Florida Atlantic University, said: "EDEN is one of the most useful tools to come from the Everglades restoration to date. It has removed our hydrologic blindfold and has given wildlife ecologists the power to develop unprecedented models of animal responses to hydrologic changes in the Everglades."
The EDEN Web site provides additional data and tools that can be used to view the information in various ways. Field measurements of ground elevation and vegetation are available for almost all gages. Users can extract data at specific locations or time periods to look at trends, events, or long-term conditions. Examples of the software tools provided to assist users working with EDEN data are posted at URL http://sofia.usgs.gov/eden/edenapps/; here are descriptions of a few of them:
The concept and initial work on designing EDEN started in mid-2004, with collaborators sharing data across multiple platforms and between academic institutions and State and Federal agencies. Aaron Higer, retired after a highly successful career with the USGS and currently an assistant scientist with the University of Florida, has been involved in the EDEN concept from its beginning. He notes: "The EDEN system provides water managers and ecosystem scientists with a new assessment tool. They now have daily water-assessment capabilities that were not possible a year ago." As scientists play more of a role in looking at the effects of managing water resources, the EDEN network has become "a critical tool for interpreting our data on fish and other aquatic animals," said Joel Trexler, an ecologist with Florida International University. "It’s not very surprising that our work has shown huge impacts of marsh drying on aquatic food-web function in the Everglades. Our innovation is to use EDEN to help us pinpoint drying events in places that are not directly monitored by hydrologists, so that we can better interpret our data on aquatic animals that wading birds eat. We also use EDEN in developing statistical models to separate the effects of drying events that are unavoidable because of low rainfall from those created by management choices. This is important information to provide clarity about trade-offs that must be weighed in managing scarce water resources."
The EDEN network benefits all partners involved in managing water resources and ecosystems within the South Florida region, including Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and the Water Conservation Areas. "EDEN and the EDEN-applications (EDENapps) are examples of the next generation of integrating hydrologic and topographic information into analytical tools for evaluating biological response to water-depth dynamics. The ecological-science community is finding this long-awaited tool to be most useful in analyzing their species/community data," said G. Ronnie Best, coordinator of USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science.
Additional information about EDEN is available in "The Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) for Support of Ecological and Biological Assessments," U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2006-3087.
in this issue:
New Tool for Water Managers
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