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projects > hydrologic monitoring and synthesis of existing hydrologic data in the florida panther national wildlife refuge and surrounding areas > abstract

Hydrology of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and Surrounding Areas

Roy S. Sonenshein
U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

The biological communities in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (FPNWR) and surrounding areas have been impacted by the changes in hydrology associated with historical highway and canal construction. The area will continue to be affected by hydrologic restoration, but changes will not be monitored because hydrologic data collection is sparse near the FPNWR. Two continuous recording stations (A1 and A2) located up-gradient in Big Cypress National Preserve are the nearest wetland stations to the FPNWR. A few stations are located along canals near the refuge. Information about current hydrologic conditions (using a monitoring network) is needed to determine the impact of the planned Picayune Strand Hydrologic Restoration on the hydrology of the area. These hydrologic changes will affect threatened and endangered species as well as other biota within the FPNWR.

As part of the USGS Priority Ecosystems Science Initiative, a study was begun in October 2005 to collect and analyze hydrologic data in the FPNWR. The objectives of the study are to (1) inventory existing hydrologic data available in the vicinity of the FPNWR; (2) design and install a network to monitor hydrologic conditions within the FPNWR and to evaluate the relationship between groundwater and surface water; (3) collect other hydrologic data as needed to assist in determining the hydrologic conditions in the area; and (4) evaluate historical and current data to determine trends and baseline conditions within the vicinity of the FPNWR.

Surface water and shallow ground-water conditions, and their interactions, affect the ecology within the FPNWR. The surface-water component consists of wetlands within, and canals bordering, the refuge; the canals have a particularly strong effect on the hydrology of the area. The FPNWR currently maintains a hydrologic monitoring network of 8 stations. The network will be updated with additional stations. The stations will soon be surveyed to a common vertical datum in order to determine the relationship between ground water and surface water in the area where gradients between the two systems are typically slight. Additional information is needed to evaluate the hydrology of the area, including stage and flow rates in the canals bordering the FPNWR.

The study described herein will provide the hydrologic data needed to meet the following science needs and management questions set forth in the Department of Interior Science Plan: (1) How have water levels been altered, and what effects do altered water levels and flows have on terrestrial and freshwater wildlife habitats in the FPNWR; in particular, how have they affected the spread of exotic plants, wading bird feeding and nesting success, and native plant communities? (2) What is the ecological response to hydrologic change? and (3) What are the anticipated effects on the threatened and endangered species in the project area?

Contact Information: Roy S. Sonenshein, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, 3110 SW 9th Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33315 USA, Phone: 954-377-5924, Fax: 954-377-5901, Email:

(This abstract is from the 2006 Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Conference.)

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