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Project Work Plan

Greater Everglades Science Program: Place-Based Studies

Project Work Plan FY 2003

A. GENERAL INFORMATION:

Project Title: Understanding and Predicting Global Climate Change Impacts on the Vegetation and Fauna of Mangrove Forested Wetlands in Florida
Project start date: Oct 98 Project end date: Sep 04
Principal Investigator: Thomas J. Smith III
Email address: Tom_J_Smith@usgs.gov
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3130 Fax: 727-803-2030
Mail address: Center for Coastal & Regional Marine Studies, 600 Fourth Street, South,
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Co-Principal Investigator: Carole C. McIvor
Email address: Carole_McIvor@usgs.gov
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3022 Fax: 727-803-2030
Mail address: Same as above

Project Summary: This project is addressing several key hypothesis related to global change impacts on the flora and fauna of the mangrove forested ecosystems which occur at the downstream end of the greater Everglades: 1) Mangroves in a geomorphic setting with relatively more edge (open-water/mangrove interface) support greater fishery productivity as measured by density and biomass/area than near-by mangroves with relatively little edge; 2) fishery productivity along complex environmental gradients is a function of the frequency and duration of tidal flooding, and of the variability in a suite of physicochemical parameters; 3) fires along the mangrove-marsh ecotone promote invasion of mangroves into adjacent marshes; and, 4) shifts in the position of the mangrove-marsh ecotone are linked to the passage of major tropical storms and hurricanes.

Project Objectives and Strategy: An overall strategy of this project is to conduct integrated research at a number of different locations to address key questions related to global climate change impacts on the coastal mangrove forests and adjacent marshes. The integrated elements of the project include hydrology, vegetation and fauna. This project established, runs and maintains the Mangrove Hydrology Monitoring Network, a series of 17 stations arrayed along upstream downstream gradients in major rivers on the southwest coast of the Park and in the C-111 basin. The sites are also used for sampling vegetation, and soil elevation changes. Additionally the project adds a key research element concerning mangrove fauna, that is not present in related projects dealing with the mangrove dominated coastal zone. The network provides data on water (ground and surface) stage and conductivity that are used by the TIME and other modeling groups. Water year reports have been prepared and data are available via the TIME website and Everglades NP "Data for Ever" database. Open File Reports are being generated which provide historical aerial photographs in digital format. One OFR with the 1927 topographic sheets has just (June 02) been approved for release and another with the 1940 aerial photoset is under review.

Potential Impacts and Major Products: The data generated by this project is being used in models (hydrological and ecological) for gauging restoration success. The data are also being used in the formulation of Performance Measures. For example, spatial data on the movement of the mangrove / marsh ecotone (derived from the digital historical aerial photographs) will be used to provide a pre-drainage baseline of the Everglades ecosystem and metrics of success in restoration.

Collaborators: USGS - Don Cahoon, Ray Schaffranek, Harry Jenter, John Jones, Nancy Rybicki, Terry Edgar, Deb Willard, Lynn Wingard, Chuck Holmes, Tom Cronin; NPS - Bill Perry (Tasks 3, 4) & Tom van Lent (Task 5)

Clients:

  • National Park Service; Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Reserve
  • Fish & Wildlife Service; Ten Thousand Islands NWR, Florida Keys Refuges
  • NOAA; Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

B. WORK PLAN

Title of Task 1: Fisheries productivity in relation to geomorphic setting (edge)
Task Leader: C.C. McIvor
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3022
Fax: 727-803-2030
Task Status: Active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Noah Silverman, Katie Kuss

Task Summary and Objectives: Hurricane damage to mangrove forests is most often followed by seedling recruitment, tree growth and forest recovery. Occasionally, however, recovery fails to occur over some affected areas, likely because of site-specific changes in sediment loss and character. Such sediment-related changes in pockets along mangrove-forested creeks in the Big Cape Sable Creek (BSC) complex have resulted in a mosaic of mangrove forests and either adjacent or partially enclosed mudflats of a range of sizes. Our goal is to take advantage of this situation to ask: " what is the consequence of long-term habitat conversion from mangrove forests to pocket mudflats - with a concomitant increase in the amount of edge - following hurricane landfall?" (This conversion apparently followed hurricanes in the 1930's and 1960's and still remains.) Under some GCC model predictions, the frequency and intensity of hurricane landfall is predicted to increase.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: During FY2002, the seven major creeks of the BSC complex were exhaustively explored for three creeks that would meet the following criteria: suitable forest and mudflat sites occurred along a single creek; sites were approachable by research boat but were removed from areas most frequently used by the boating public; replicate creeks were available with both habitat types; mudflats were of a size that could be sampled with existing gear (intertidal rivulet nets) used along the Shark River transect. We were delayed in April 2002 in building necessary researcher walkways along intertidal rivulets at the 3 mudflat sites because of a change in ENP policy about compliance with the Wilderness Act and the possible need for NEPA review. We currently (June 2002) have detailed documentation into permitting channels at ENP regarding choice of safe environmental materials, but have been stymied in our efforts to obtain a valid research permit for this portion of the work. Efforts are continuing.

Planned Outreach: Participate in Open House activities at the Center for Coastal and Regional Marine Studies and the Florida Caribbean Science Center. Assist with Everglades National Park's annual Interpretive Naturalist training. Make both oral and poster presentations at appropriate scientific forums. Provide semi-annual briefings to appropriate staff from our client agencies and present one more formal seminar. Reports and products will be provided to client agencies. This portion of the GCC project constitutes the planned masters thesis of current biotechnician Noah Silverman through the University of South Florida, Tampa.

Title of Task 2: Fisheries productivity in relation to flooding frequency and duration, physicochemical variability
Task Leader: C.C. McIvor
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3022
Fax: 727-803-2030
Task Status (proposed or active): Active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Noah Silverman, Katie Kuss

Task Summary and Objectives: The degree and duration of tidal flooding appears to greatly affect the suite of species capable of routinely using the intermittently available flooded mangrove forest floor. Similarly, the amount of variability in physicochemical parameters, specifically salinity, appears to be another "filter" for species capable of surviving wide ranges in variability in exchange for expanded habitats exploited.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: Fish sampling stations have been established at three sites along the salinity (and flooding) gradient to test this hypothesis. Samples have been, and will continue to be taken every two months from replicate nets and two methods at each site. The objectives in the next fiscal year are to quantify the micro-drainage basins draining into each of 9 intertidal nets, and to begin integrating biological and physicochemical data to partition the variance due to the multiple factors affecting fish productivity.

Planned Outreach: Participate in Open House activities at the Center for Coastal and Regional Marine Studies and the Florida Caribbean Science Center. Assist with Everglades National Park's annual Interpretive Naturalist training. Make both oral and poster presentations at appropriate scientific forums. Provide semi-annual briefings to appropriate staff from our client agencies, including one formal seminar. Reports and products will be provided to client agencies.

Title of Task 3: Effects of marsh fires on the position of the mangrove marsh ecotone
Task Leader: Thomas J. Smith III
Phone: 722-803-8747 x 3130
Fax: 722-803-2030
Task Status: Active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Christa Walker, Kevin Whelan, Suzanne Chwala

Task Summary and Objectives: Fire appears to play a crucial role in the maintenance of the coastal marine prairies within Everglades National Park and elsewhere in far south Florida. Occurrence of marsh fires may impact the ability of mangrove forests to invade marsh areas. The objective of this task is to understand the effect of fire on controlling the spatial extent of mangrove expansion into upstream coastal marine prairies.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: A transect has been established across a mangrove marsh ecotone adjacent to the Harney River for detailed study. A series of permanent vegetation plots have been set up to measure mangrove tree growth and seeding recruitment. Replicate sediment porewater sampling wells are monitored near each vegetation plot. Mangrove seedling transplants have been established to assess the ability of mangroves to grow under a sawgrass canopy. In conjunction with ENP Fire Cache, a controlled burn was conducted to assess fire impacts on the vegetation along the ecotone. Sampling of the burn area will continue. Available data on the location of historical fires will be entered into a GIS system for comparison with overlays of the movement of the ecotone with time.

Planned Outreach: Participate in Open House activities at the Center for Coastal and Regional Marine Studies and the Florida Caribbean Science Center. Assist with Everglades National Park's annual Interpretive Naturalist training. Make both oral and poster presentations at appropriate scientific forums. Provide semi-annual briefings to appropriate staff from our client agencies, including one formal seminar. Reports and products will be provided to client agencies.

Title of Task 4: Changes in the mangrove marsh ecotone in relation to sea level, hurricanes and freshwater inflow
Task Leaders: Thomas J. Smith III
Phone: 722-803-8747 x 3130
Fax: 722-803-2030
Task Status: Active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Ann Foster, Christa Walker, Peter Briere

Task Summary and Objectives: Measure changes in the position of the mangrove - marsh ecotone over recent time (1920s to present). Relate movement of the ecotone to measurable environmental factors such as recent sea level variation and freshwater inflow. Estimate decadal and greater term variation via down core analyses of long cores taken at sites SH1-5.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: Assist with scanning historical aerial photographs of the coastal regions of Everglades NP and south Florida. Photos will be scanned at 800dpi, mosaiced and georeferenced for use in conventional GIS packages. Position of the mangrove / marsh ecotone will be determined by photo interpretation and changes maps developed. The scanned photos will be compiled into CD / DVD sets for distribution to clients as USGS Open File Reports. Sediment cores from sites SH1-5 will be collected by vibracoring. Cores will be returned to the lab for processing by collaborating USGS scientists.

Planned Outreach: Participate in Open House activities at the Center for Coastal and Regional Marine Studies and the Florida Caribbean Science Center. Assist with Everglades National Park's annual Interpretive Naturalist training. Make both oral and poster presentations at appropriate scientific forums. Provide semi-annual briefings to appropriate staff from our client agencies, including one formal seminar. Reports and products will be provided to client agencies.

Title of Task 5: Operation and maintenance of the Mangrove Hydrology Sampling Network in Everglades National Park.
Task Leader: Gordon Anderson
Phone: 722-803-8747 x 3130
Fax: 722-803-2030
Task Status: Active
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Christa Walker, Suzanne Chwala, Thomas J. Smith

Task Summary and Objectives: Continue the collection of surface and groundwater elevation and conductivity data from the 17-station Mangrove Hydrology Sampling Network. Archive the data in the Everglades NP "Data for Ever" database. Disseminate the data via a series of Open-File Reports.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: Seventeen hydrological sampling stations have been established across the mangrove marsh ecotone at four locations in Everglades National Park (downstream of the C-111 canal, Shark River Slough, Lostmans River and the Chatham River). Each station consists of at least two sampling wells, one for groundwater and one for surface water. Subsets of stations are instrumented to sample soil water and measure rainfall. Data are collected at intervals ranging from every hour to every four hours depending on the ability to recharge batteries. Data are downloaded daily and archived for later QA/QC operations. In FY02 significant equipment upgrade is being carried out to standardize instrumentation across all sites. During FY03 the network will be operated and the data distributed to all parties, especially the TIME modeling group and the hydrology section at the South Florida Natural Resources Center.

Planned Outreach: Participate in Open House activities at the Center for Coastal and Regional Marine Studies and the Florida Caribbean Science Center. Assist with Everglades National Park's annual Interpretive Naturalist training. Make both oral and poster presentations at appropriate scientific forums. Provide semi-annual briefings to appropriate staff from our client agencies.


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