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Project Summary Sheet

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GEPES) and ENP's CESI

Fiscal Year 2006 Project Summary Report

Study Title: Hydrologic Monitoring and Synthesis of Existing Hydrologic Data in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and Surrounding Areas
Principal Investigator(s): Roy Sonenshein
Study Start Date: 10/01/2005 Study End Date: 09/30/2007
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GEPES) and NPS's Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative (CESI)
Web Sites: n/a
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GEPES) and ENP Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative (CESI)
Other Complementary Funding Source(s): n/a
Study Personnel: Larry Richardson (FPNWR) Support staff in Ft. Lauderdale USGS office and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Supporting Organizations: Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Associated / Linked Studies:

Overview & Objective: The biologic communities of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (FPNWR) and surrounding areas have been historically impacted by the changes in hydrology associated with past highway and canal construction and will be impacted by future plans for hydrologic restoration. Currently, little hydrologic data is collected in the vicinity of the FPNWR. Two continuous recording stations located up gradient in Big Cypress National Park (stations A1 and A2) are the nearest wetland stations to the FPNWR. Additional stations are located in the canals near the FPNWR. Information on current hydrologic conditions and a monitoring network are needed in order to determine the impact of the planned Picayune Strand Hydrologic Restoration on the hydrology of the area. These hydrologic changes will have effects on the threatened and endangered species as well as other biologic communities in the FPNWR.

There are two components to the hydrology of the area that have an impact on the ecology, surface water, and shallow ground water. The surface water consists of wetlands within and canals bordering the FPNWR. Canals bordering the refuge have a major impact on the hydrology in the area. The FPNWR currently maintains a hydrologic monitoring program of 8 stations (Larry Richardson, verbal communication). These hydrologic monitoring stations have not been surveyed to a vertical datum, which is required to adequately evaluate the data being collected. The survey information is required to determine the relationship between ground water and surface water in the area. Additional information needed to evaluate the hydrology of the area include stage and flow rates in the canals bordering the FPNWR.

The objectives of this project are to

  1. Inventory existing hydrologic data available in the vicinity of the FPNWR. This will include all data that can be used for determining past and current conditions.
  2. Design and install a hydrologic monitoring network for the FPNWR. The network will include continuous and intermittently monitored ground-water level and surface water stations. The network will be used to monitor hydrologic conditions within the FPNWR and to evaluate the relationship between ground water and surface water.
  3. Collect other hydrologic data as needed to assist in determining the hydrologic conditions in the area. Examples of other types of data include stable isotopes, which can be used to determine sources of water in a sample (Wilcox, Solo-Gabriele, and Sternberg, 2004), evapotranspiration data, surface and borehole geophysical data, seepage measurements (Harvey and others, 2002)
  4. Evaluate historical and current data to determine trends and baseline conditions at and in the vicinity of the FPNWR.


  • Task 1 - Literature search and historical data - completed, summary report in preparation
  • Task 2 - Design and install monitoring network - completed, 18 wells installed
  • Task 3 - Surveying - waiting on availability of GPS survey equipment and crew
  • Task 4 - Collection and analysis of monitoring data - 8 tranducers were installed in August 2006 and are operational
  • Task 5 - Additional data collection - surface water inflow and outflow survey completed, remaining data collection will be done in FY07

Recent & Planned Products

  • Progress report of historical data and literature review - in preparation
  • Summary progress report on design of monitoring network - in preparation
  • SOFIA data exchange web page with project data sets - planned
  • Progress Report detailing data collection activities - planned

Relevance to Greater Everglades Restoration Information Needs: This study provides the hydrologic data which will be needed to meet the following science needs and management questions from the DOI Science Plan:

  • How have water levels been altered and what are the effects of altered water levels and flows on terrestrial and freshwater wildlife habitats in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, particularly how they have affected the spread of exotic plants, wading bird feeding and nesting success, and native plant communities?
  • What is the ecological response to hydrologic change?
  • What are the anticipated effects on the threatened and endangered species in the study area?

Key Finding:

  • In May 2006, near the end of the dry season, there were no surface water inflows or outflows to the Florida Panther NWR from the canals along SR29 and I75. The bridges and culverts under SR29 were dry. The bridges and culverts under I75 were either dry or had no flow.
  • A hard layer was encountered during drilling of most wells at a depth of 2 to 3 feet. It is not known yet if this rock layer has an effect on interactions between ponded surface water and ground water within the refuge.

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