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Ecosystem History of Biscayne Bay and the Southeast Coast

photo of scientist taking a core
Project Investigator: G. Lynn Wingard

Project Start Date: 1995 End Date: 2000


Summary

Our project will compile data in order to reconstruct the ecosystem history for the entire region over the last 150 years.

This project has now ended. For related information, please see the Historical Changes in Salinity, Water Quality and Vegetation in Biscayne Bay Project Page. For more information on the Ecosystem History program, please visit the Florida Ecosystem History Project Website.

Recent negative trends have been observed in the ecosystem of Florida Bay, including algal blooms, seagrass die-offs, and declining numbers or shellfish, adversely affecting the fishing and tourist industries. Many theories of cause and effect exist to explain the adverse trends, but these theories have not been scientifically tested. Prior to finalizing plans for ecosystem restoration, the relative roles of human activities versus natural ecosystem variations need to be established. This project addresses this need by focusing on two primary goals. First, to determine the characteristics of the ecosystem prior to significant human alteration, including the natural range of variation in the system; this establishes the baseline for restoration. Second, to establish the extent, range, and timing of changes to the ecosystem over approximately the last 150 years and to determine if these changes correlate to human alteration, meteorological patterns, or a combination of factors. In addition, data on recovery times of certain components of the ecosystem will be obtained allowing biologists to estimate responses to proposed restoration efforts. This project is planned as a five year study, to be completed in 1999.

This project is one segment in a group of coordinated USGS projects examining the biota, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, and hydrology of southern Florida, Florida Bay and the surrounding areas. Data are being compiled from terrestrial, marine, and freshwater environments in onshore and offshore sites in order to reconstruct the ecosystem history for the entire region over the last 150 years.

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Script last updated: 22 August 2014 @ 06:07 PM by THF. Record creator: BJM. Record last updated by: LJT.