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Project Summary Sheet

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (PES) Program

Fiscal Year 2004 Study Summary Report

Study Title: Southwest Florida Coastal and Wetland Systems Monitoring
Study Start Date: October, 1999 Study End Date: On-going
Web Sites:,,
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve
Funding Source: USGS's Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science Program (PES)
Principal Investigator(s): Eduardo Patino
Study Personnel: Lars Soderqvist, Craig Thompson, Marc Stewart.
Supporting Organizations: USGS, ENP, USACE, NOAA, SFWMD, Florida International University (FIU), University of Miami (UM), Louisiana State University (LSU), and Texas A&M University (TAMU)
Associated / Linked Projects: Tides and Inflows in the Mangroves of the Everglades (TIME), Southern Inland and Coastal Systems (SICS), Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP); Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP); Southwest Florida Feasibility Study; Florida Bay Florida Keys Feasibility Study; FIU Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), SFWMD Everglades/Mercury Research.

Overview & Objective(s):
Hydrologic information throughout the Everglades ecosystem is key to the development of restoration strategies and for future evaluation of restoration results. There are significant hydrologic information gaps throughout the Everglades wetlands and estuaries that need to be addressed, particularly along Florida's southwest coast. Among these gaps are flow, water level, and salinity data. This project, in conjunction with the ENP's marine monitoring network, will provide water level, salinity, and flow information at key points within the mangrove zone along the southwest coast of ENP. Hydrodynamic modelers of the Everglades, Florida Bay, southwest coast estuaries, and other adjacent marine systems, will use these data to calibrate and verify models describing flow patterns throughout ENP. The study area encompasses the estuarine and wetland regions from White Water Bay near Flamingo to Everglades City. The results of this study will provide information on freshwater flows and salinity trends, effects of weather systems, and on how Everglades Restoration projects affect the freshwater inflows and water quality of the estuarine ecosystem.

The objectives of this project are (1) to describe flow and salinity of estuaries along the southwest coast of ENP in relation to freshwater inflow and tidal exchange with the Gulf of Mexico; (2) provide support to the USGS Tides and Inflows in the Mangroves of the Everglades (TIME) model, to the SIRENIA Manatee research project, and to programs like the Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (LTER). Additionally, other federal and state agencies, universities, and local institutions conducting research in the area will be give access to all the information generated though this study.

This project continues to supply critical hydrologic information related to CERP and other Everglades Research efforts. Discharge is available for all major rivers draining the Shark River Slough basin of ENP. Starting in September 2003, the effort to measure flows along the southwest coast was significantly expanded with the contribution of the CERP/MAP funded Coastal Gradients of Flow, Salinity, and Nutrients project. This CERP effort is dependent on existing PES projects like the Southwest Florida Coastal and Wetland Systems Monitoring to continue. Continuing data collection efforts as well as expanding the research perspective will provide baseline information and link upstream and downstream processes along estuaries of the southwest coast.

Recent & Planned Products:

  1. Abstract and poster presentation, “Hydrologic Information for Tidal Rivers along the Southwest Coast of Everglades National Park”, presented at the Florida Bay/GEER conference, April 2003.
  2. Records computation for 2001-2003 is complete and reviews are well under way.
  3. Availability of hydrologic records for 2001 through 2003 at the USGS-SOFIA web address to begin in October 2004.
  4. Use of data filters for the extraction of tidal signatures and the production of NET discharges at rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico along the southwest coast of ENP, to begin in FY-2005.
  5. Abstract, oral, and poster presentations at the First National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (Orlando, Florida, Dec. 6 - 10 2004), to be prepared and presented in conjunction with the Freshwater Flows into Northeast Florida Bay (PES) and Coastal Gradients of Flow, Salinity, and Nutrients (CERP/MAP) projects.
  6. All records through Water Year 2004 to be published in the FISC-WRS 2004 Data Report (April 1, 2005).

Relevance to Greater Everglades Restoration Information Needs:

This project is directly tied to Monitoring Assessment Plan (MAP), performance measures (salinity distributions), hydrodynamic model development and verification (TIME/SICS), and will provide baseline information on freshwater flows and salinity throughout the estuaries along the southwest coast and wetlands of Everglades National Park, including the Shark River Slough.

Key Findings:

  1. Lostman's River flow magnitudes suggest that a large portion of the total freshwater outflow from ENP to the estuaries along the southwest coast and the Gulf of Mexico is discharge through this river. Continued research and data analysis is necessary to determine the role of Lostman's River in the overall flow and salinity picture of the area.
  2. Bottle Creek (Rookery Branch) data seems to reflect “true” transition zone hydrologic conditions and in conjunction with additional stations planned through the MAP project “Coastal Gradients of Flow, Salinity and Nutrients”, will provide critical information for the calibration and verification of TIME and for other ecological research being conducted within the study area. This station was shifted from GEPES to CERP/MAP funding.
  3. As expected, there is a notable difference between the salinity signatures of rivers receiving freshwater inflows from the Shark River Slough (North, Shark, and Broad Rivers) and those to the north (Lostman's, Chatham, Lopez, New, Turner, and Barron Rivers).

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