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Project Summary Sheet

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Science Initiative (Place-Based Studies)

Fiscal Year 2003 Project Summary Report


Project Title: Use of Amphibian Communities as Indicators of Restoration Success

Project Start Date: 2003 Project End Date: 2005

Web Sites: sofia.usgs.gov

Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Big Cypress National Preserve

Funding Source: USGS's Greater Everglades Science Initiative (PBS), CESI

Principal Investigator(s): Kenneth G. Rice, Frank J. Mazzotti, H. Franklin Percival

Project Personnel: Hardin Waddle, Brian Jeffrey, University of Florida

Supporting Organizations: University of Florida, USGS Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Associated / Linked Projects: CESI: Effects of Public Land Use on Threatened, Endangered, and Indicator Species

Overview & Objective(s): Amphibians are present in all habitats and under all hydrologic regimes in the Everglades. The species present and the occupancy rate of a given species differ greatly across those gradients. These differences are due to hydropattern, vegetation, and other environmental factors. The combination of species composition and proportion of each habitat occupied at a given time form unique communities defined by those environmental factors. Therefore, if these communities can be reliably defined and measured, Everglades restoration success can be evaluated. This project will develop methodologies for defining and measuring the membership and area occupancy and of amphibian communities. Further, we will investigate the relationship of occupancy, survival, movement probability, and density of amphibians with hydroperiod and other environmental factors. Finally, we will provide a method for measuring restoration success based on these communities. Our objectives include:

  • Define amphibian communities appropriate for evaluating restoration success.
  • Develop methods for measuring the area occupancy of amphibian communities.
  • Investigate the relationship of occupancy, survival, movement probability, and density with hydroperiod and other environmental factors.
  • Develop restoration targets for the amphibian community of the Everglades.
  • Develop a restoration tool for amphibian communities that measures restoration success and compares restoration alternatives.
  • Develop an index of biological integrity for amphibians that provides a framework for scientifically defensible decisions by restoration managers.

Status: We are using data previously collected from Everglades National Park to develop methods for defining amphibian communities using the Proportion Area Occupied (PAO) model and multivariate statistical techniques. We have begun to investigate the relationship of occupancy, survival, movement probability, and density with hydropattern with a PhD student based at Big Cypress National Preserve. We are using mark-recapture and telemetry to examine these population parameters for aquatic salamanders and the community of treefrogs present in the Preserve. Also, we are continuing to develop methods under the PAO model for measuring the occupancy rate of communities across habitats and hydroperiod gradients.

Recent & Planned Products: In FY02, 2 peer-reviewed journal articles were accepted for publication. We also gave several presentations at National Meetings and GEER in FY03. We are currently working on a further journal manuscript and have presentations accepted at national and international meetings.

Relevance to Greater Everglades Restoration Information Needs:

  • Development of amphibian monitoring tools mentioned specifically as a science need in the DOI Everglades Restoration Science Prioritization Strategy.
  • Addresses Science Objectives 1,3,4,5 under Restoration Goal 2A, Ecological Indicators, in the USGS Science Plan in Support of Everglades Restoration.
  • Tools and scientific data necessary for evaluation of restoration success.
  • Methods and data necessary for RECOVER's adaptive assessment process and monitoring program.
  • Development of a cost-effective monitoring program for amphibians.
  • Development of performance measures for amphibian communities.
  • Peer-reviewed publications and published methodology for evaluation of restoration success.

Key Findings:

  • We have been able to define the amphibian communities of Everglades National Park based on habitat using a repeatable and cost-effective monitoring method. Our next step is to further define these communities based on hydropattern and use this pattern to establish restoration targets.
  • We have developed a cost-effective and repeatable amphibian monitoring program for use in CERP throughout the Everglades system.
  • We have illustrated the use of an entire group of indicator species to assess restoration success.




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