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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: Impacts of Hydrological Restoration on Three Estuarine Communities of the Southwest Florida Coast and on Associated Animal Inhabitants

Project Start Date: 2000 Project End Date: 2005

Web Sites: http://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/impacts_est/

Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Everglades National Park (Monroe County)

Funding Source: (PBS): Additionally, ENP supplied research houseboat. Hart salary: Human Resources grant to the FISC. Half Silverman's salary (a contractor) is paid off GCC.

Principal Investigator(s): Carole C. McIvor

Project Personnel: Kathleen Kuss, Gary L. Hill, Kristen Hart (SCEP), Noah Silverman

Supporting Organizations: Everglades National Park, Duke University

Associated/Linked Projects: Effects of GCC on mangrove forests & associated fauna in SW Florida (T.J. Smith, C.C. McIvor). Distribution & biochemical characteristics of submerged aquatic vegetation along Shark River (subcontract to J. Fourqurean, FIU)

Overview & Objective(s): The overall goal is to provide baseline data on mangrove-associated fauna and on submerged aquatic vegetation in Shark River prior to hydrological restoration upstream. Specific objectives are to: (1) quantify species composition, density, & biomass of fishes & decapod crustaceans in intertidal mangrove forests along salinity gradient in Shark River: relate these distributional patterns to hydrological & environmental factors; (2) describe the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) of Shark River in relation to sediment & water quality parameters; and (3) describe the population structure & habitat use of diamondback terrapins in the Big Sable Creek complex.

Status: Ongoing, at end of 3rd year of data collection for objective 1.

Recent & Planned Products: Excel datasets of fish species, numbers and biomass at 3 fixed sites in fringing mangrove forests along a salinity gradient in Shark River, March 2000-July 2003. Excel datasets of terrapin morphological parameters, cature and re-capture locations, PIT tag numbers, blood sample numbers from 2001-2003. GEER Conference 2003: two papers, 1 poster. Semiannual report from Fourqurean (SAV).

Relevance to Greater Everglades Restoration Information Needs: Fish, SAV, and terrapin research all provide baseline data for restoration. Data can be used to develop performance measures as well.

Key Findings:

  1. Composition of the forage fish community using flooded mangrove forests along Shark River is largely explained using a combination of salinity (mean, variance), and depth of tidal flooding.
  2. A specialized fish mangrove rivulus (Rivulus marmoratus), a species of special concern, is a common forest floor inhabitant all along the salinity gradient sampled, a fact that may contribute significantly to the decision about whether to list it as endangered.
  3. Submerged vascular plants (SAV) along Shark River are limited to Ponce de Leon Bay (seagrasses Halophila decipiens, Halodule wrighti), and Tarpon Bay (Ruppia maritima).
  4. Diamondback terrapins, increasingly rare in developed portions of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, are abundant in the headwater portions of the mangrove-lined tidal creeks of the Big Cape Sable Creek complex.
  5. Juvenile and subadult green sea turtles (20-60 cm, 17 individuals), have been observed on every research trip (5 total) to the Big Sable Creek complex. Like diamondback terrapins, they use tidal creek headwaters. Because green sea turtles are an endangered species, we are pursuing our exciting and unexpected finding with research proposals to interested agencies.




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