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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: Everglades Restoration

Project Start Date: 1 October 2002 Project End Date: 30 September 2007

Web Sites: and

Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): The Everglades, lower west coast, lower east coast, Florida Bay, Collier, Miami-Dade, Monroe

Funding Source: USGS's Greater Everglades Science Initiative (PBS), potential funding from SFWMD and BRD Global Change Program

Principal Investigator(s): T.J. Smith III

Project Personnel: Gordon H. Anderson (USGS), Kevin R.T. Whelan (USGS), Fara Ilami (CSC)

Supporting Organizations: NPS, SFWMD, FWS, EPA

Associated / Linked Projects: "Vegetation & Hydrology of Land-Margin Ecosystems in south Florida", "Understanding and Predicting Global Climate Change Impacts on the Vegetation and Fauna of Mangrove Forested Ecosystems in Florida"

Overview & Objective(s): Coastal ecosystems of the greater Everglades ecosystem are ignored by many of the models that have been used to evaluate CERP. The domains for the NSM, SFWMM and ATLSS models do not include the mangrove, marsh and back-bay systems found along the southwest coast or along the shore of Florida Bay. Recently initiated modeling efforts such as TIME do include these productive ecosystems in their model domain. Additionally, CERP has recognized the importance of these systems and several performance measures (e.g. soil accretion) are proposed in the RECOVER Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP). This project has three objectives (tasks): 1) operate and maintain the Mangrove Hydrology sampling network; 2) measure rates of mangrove forest growth and production in relation to hydrologic parameters; and, 3) measure rates of sediment surface elevation change and soil accretion or loss in coastal mangrove forests and brackish marshes of the Everglades.

Status: Although just initiated this FY, this project pays the salary of G.H. Anderson and carries on previously base funded activities of the PI by providing a bare minimum of operating expenses. These activities will be briefly discussed below.

Hydrology Task: Maintenance of the mangrove hydrology network continued to consume a significant portion of time and budget. We initiated work to rebuild all of the platforms. More importantly we began to replace older equipment with new material from the Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility, a WRD operation in Bay St. Louis, MS. The network still yields data that are being used by an increasing number of collaborators including all investigators associated with the National Science Foundation's "Florida Coastal Everglades" Long-term Ecological Research project, and PIs with the TIME project.

Vegetation Task: Sampling of the permanent mangrove forest plots continued to show interesting dynamics among the three mangrove species. This year marked the 10th year anniversary following Hurricane Andrew. The red mangrove increased in abundance in almost all plots, whereas no change in abundance of the black mangrove has been recorded for over five years and the white mangrove is extremely variable. Seedlings of the white mangrove dominate the seedling flora across the mangrove marsh ecotone.

Sediment Surface Elevation Task: Measurements of wetlands sediment surface elevation were conducted quarterly over the year and have yielded surprising results. Upstream, freshwater wetlands respond to hydrologic forcing in the opposite manner than do downstream, saline wetlands. As water level drops in freshwater sites, the sediment surface elevation increases. In saline wetlands the opposite is true.

Recent & Planned Products: The following abstracts all appeared in: Best, G.R. 2003. U.S. Geological Survey Greater Everglades Science Program: 2002 Biennial Report. USGS Open-File Report 03-54.

  1. Anderson, G.H. & T.J. Smith III. Longterm data from the USGS/BRD mangrove hydrology sampling network in Everglades National Park. Pp 20-22.
  2. Briere, P.R., T.J. Smith III, A.M. Foster, A.W. Coffin, K. Rutchey, J.W. Jones, C. Van Arsdall, & W.B. Perry. Development of digital Aerial photography archives for the greater Everglades of south Florida. Pp. 225-226
  3. Cahoon, D.R., J.C. Lynch, T.J. Smith III, K.R.T. Whelan, G.H. Anderson & C. Walker. Do surface water and ground water fluctuations influence sediment surface elevation in coastal, Everglades, wetlands? Pp. 27-28.
  4. Coffin, A.W., H. Henkel, H. Mounts, P.R. Briere, A.M. Foster, T.J. Smith III & R.R. Wertz. Creation of a geo-database of the digital photography archives for the Greater Everglades of south Florida and the Southern and Inland Coastal System. Pp. 227-228.
  5. DeWitt, N.T., B.J. Reynolds, T.J. Smith III & G.H. Anderson. Data in the key of ZZZ: Development of a network to establish vertical reference datum for research studies in the southwest coastal Everglades. Pp. 229-230.
  6. Foster, A.M. & T.J. Smith III. Shifts in the position of the marsh / mangrove ecotone in the western Florida Everglades. Pp. 147-148.
  7. Jenter, H.L., R.W. Schaffranek & T.J. Smith III. Thermally driven vertical mixing in the Everglades. Pp. 93-95.
  8. Smith, T.J., III, L. Fahrig, P.W. Carlson, T.V. Armentano, and G.M. Peery. Mangrove dieoff in Florida Bay: A recurring natural event? Pp. 196-197.
  9. Smith, T.J., III, K.R.T. Whelan, G.H. Anderson, C.L. Walker, J.S. Dismukes & T.W. Doyle. A decade of mangrove forest change following Hurricane Andrew. Pp. 198-200.
  10. Walker, C.L., T.J. Smith III & K.R.T. Whelan. Short-term dynamics of vegetation change across a mangrove - marsh ecotone in the southwest coastal Everglades: Storms, sea-level, fire and freeze. Pp. 209-210.
  11. Whelan, K.R.T. & T.J. Smith III. Characteristics of lightning gaps in the mangrove forests of Everglades National Park. Pp. 211-212.

Additional publications / products / presentations:

  1. Anderson, G.H. & T.J. Smith III. 2002. Hydraulic conductivity of riparian mangrove forest peat adjacent to the Harney River, Everglades National Park: A comparative field study of field saturated and saturated hydraulic conductivity methods. Eos Transactions, AGU, 83(19) Spring Mtg. Suppl., Abstract H31A-02.
  2. Anderson, G.H. & T.J. Smith III. Data from the Mangrove Hydrology Sampling Network for the lower Shark River, Everglades National Park: Water Years 1996-2002. USGS, Open-File Report 02-457 (In final preparation).
  3. Bolster, C.H. & J.E. Saiers. 2002. Development and evaluation of a mathematical model for surface water flow within Shark River Slough of the Florida Everglades. Journal of Hydrology, 259: 221-235.
  4. Bolster, C.H., D.P. Genereaux & J.E. Saiers. 2001. Determination of specific yield for the Biscayne Aquifer with a canal-drawdown test. Ground Water, 39: 768-777.
  5. Fry, B. & T.J. Smith III. 2002. Stable isotope studies of red mangroves and filter feeders from the Shark River estuary, Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science, 70: 871-890.
  6. Saiers, J.E., D.P. Genereaux & C.H. Bolster. In Press. Influence of calibration methodology on ground-water flow predictions. Ground Water.
  7. Smith, T.J., III & D.R. Cahoon. 2002. Sediment surface elevation changes in relation to groundwater hydrologic variation in the coastal Florida Everglades. Eos Transactions, AGU, 83(19) Spring Mtg. Suppl., Abstract H31A-04.
  8. Smith, T.J. III, A.M. Foster, P.R. Briere, J.W. Jones & C. Van Arsdall. 2002. Conversion of historical topographic sheets (T-sheets) to digital form: Florida Everglades and vicinity. USGS, Open-File Report 02-204. CD-ROM
  9. Smith, T.J., III, A.M. Foster, P.R. Briere, A.W. Coffin, J.W. Jones & C. Van Arsdall. 2003. Historical aerial photography for the Greater Everglades of south Florida: The 1940, 1:40,000 photoset. U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 02-327. DVD.
  10. Smith, T.J., III & D.R. Cahoon. 2003. Wetland sediment elevation in the Florida Everglades: Response to surface water stage variation. Coastal Sediments 2003: The 5th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering & Science of Coastal Sediment Processes. CD-ROM.

Relevance to Greater Everglades Restoration Information Needs: Long-term sampling of hydrology, vegetation and soils in the coastal wetlands of the Everglades has been recognized as a priority by CERP and in the DOI and USGS science plans. This project addresses all of those needs by maintaining an integrated network of sampling stations located on key rivers of the lower Everglades. Mangrove and marsh vegetation is sampled regularly in permanent plots located adjacent to surface- and ground-water sampling wells and sediment surface elevation tables. The data are available for use in all CERP modeling efforts, development of performance measures and tracking impacts of restoration as it occurs.

Key Findings:

  • The large coastal islands of the Everglades (e.g. between the Shark and Harney Rivers or between the Broad and Lostmans Rivers) may be hydrologically "disconnected" from the upstream Everglades.
  • Tidal "pumping" of groundwater in the surficial aquifer may be an important process in the coastal Everglades.
  • Mangrove forest recovery from large-scale disturbance is highly variable over very short spatial and time scales.
  • Catastrophic disturbances in coastal wetlands can trigger sediment elevation declines that can continue for 50 or more years after the event.
  • Downstream, saline wetlands (mangroves) and upstream, freshwater wetlands (sawgrass and spikerush) respond to surface water elevation change in the opposite manner. As surface water stage declines in freshwater marshes, sediment elevation increases. The opposite occurs in mangroves.

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