USGS - science for a changing world

South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)

projects > dynamics of land margin ecosystems > work plan

Project Work Plan

U.S. Geological Survey Greater Everglades Science Initiative (Place-Based Studies)

Fiscal Year 2004 Project Work Plan


Project Title: Coastal Everglades Wetlands: Hydrology, Vegetation and Sediment Dynamics (formerly Everglades Restoration - Smith)
Project Start Date: 1 October 2002 Project End Date: 30 September 2007
Project Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative, potential for funding from SFWMD and BRD-GCC program
Principal Investigator: Thomas J. Smith III
Email address:
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3130 Fax: 727-803-2030
Mail address: Florida Integrated Science Center at St. Petersburg, 600 4th St., S., St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

Other Investigator(s): Gordon Anderson (USGS), Kevin Whelan (USGS), Fara Ilami (CSC), Christa Walker (CSC)
Email address:,,,
Phone: 305-242-7800 Fax: 305-242-7836
Mail address: USGS, Everglades Field Station, c/o Beard Center, Everglades National Park, 40001 SR 9336, Homestead, Fl 33034

Project Summary: 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 CERP Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP). This project has three objectives (tasks): 1) operate and maintain the Mangrove Hydrology sampling network; 2) study the dynamics of coastal vegetation (mangroves, marshes) in relation to sea-level, fire, disturbance and restoration; and, 3) measure rates of sediment surface elevation change and soil accretion or loss in coastal mangrove forests and brackish marshes of the Everglades and determine how sediment elevation varies in relation to hydrology (i.e. the restoration).

Project Objectives and Strategy: This project was initiated during FY03. It provides salary for G.H. Anderson, fulltime Hydrologic Technician; K.R.T. Whelan, 3/4 time Student Ecologist and, for T.J. Smith, Research Ecologist. Additional funding for travel, supplies, contract field personnel and equipment is also provided. T.J. Smith provides project oversight, coordination, scientific planning, supervises project staff and actively participates in field work. He conducts most of the data analyses, designs studies, develops hypotheses to be tested and leads in report preparation. G.H. Anderson leads the hydrology task and is responsible for the operation, maintenance and data QA/QC from that network. K. Whelan is responsible for assisting with the vegetation and sediment tasks. He conducts that portion of the vegetation task related to gap dynamics in mangrove forests.

The objective of this project is to conduct integrated studies to develop an understanding of how hydrologic parameters, disturbance, sediment, and global change (e.g. sea level) influence ecological systems in coastal wetlands. Hydrological factors studied include surface and groundwater stage and conductivity, surface water flow, nutrient concentration and suspended sediment. Fire, freeze, hurricanes and lightning strikes are among the disturbances that are important in coastal wetlands. Sediment elevation changes in coastal wetlands as a function of plant growth and decomposition, accretion or erosion due to tides and surface water flows, fire (in freshwater peats) and hurricanes. Both positive and negative feedbacks on sediment elevation have been discovered. Sea level has increased almost 30 cm in the past century. The influence of continued sea level rise on CERP for restoring coastal areas is unknown at present. These questions have been addressed by the development of an integrated network of sampling and measurement sites where instrumentation is collocated. Many sites have surface and ground water sampling wells, sediment elevations tables and permanent vegetation plots. Transects, with both permanent plots and hydrology sampling wells, have been established across the mangrove - marsh ecotone to examine the influence of hydrology and fires (both partly controllable), freezes and sea level (not manageable) on the position of the ecotone.

Potential Impacts and Major Products: Data developed from this project have been used to examine the initial success of the degrading of the C-111 berm, for development of performance measures for estuarine areas, and to look at emergency measures taken to prevent flooding in the CSSS habitat. Numerous presentations at formal scientific meetings have been made. There are a variety of products posted on the SOFIA website from the PI's previous work. Open-File Reports have been prepared as well as refereed journal publications. In FY04 several OFRs and peer-reviewed manuscripts will be produced (see individual tasks below). All data reports, publications, and OFRs will be posted on the SOFIA website.

Project Time Frame: The Time Frame is below.

time frame for project
[larger image]

Ed Patino, Clinton Hittle, Eric Swain, Chris Langevin, WRD, Miami, FL
Ray Schaffranek, Harry Jenter, Jud Harvey, WRD, Reston, VA
John Jones, NMD, Reston
Kim Yates, Bob Halley, John Brock, Terry Edgar, Carole McIvor, CCWS, St. Petersburg, FL
Donald Cahoon, BRD, PWRC, Laurel, MD
Tom Doyle, Beth Middleton, Karen McKee, BRD, NWRC, Lafayette, LA
James Fourqurean, Dan Childers, Steve Oberbauer, Dept. Biology, FIU, Miami, FL
Rene Price, Dept. Geology, FIU, Miami, FL
Hal Wanless, Dept. Geology, U. Miami, Miami, FL
James Saiers, Yale, Hew Haven, CT

Bill Perry, Coastal Program Coordinator, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL
Sherry Mitchell, Hydrology Program Coordinator, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL
Robert Panko, Chief, Fire Management & Ecology Team, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL
Matt Patterson, NPS, SE Regional Office, Inventory & Monitoring Coordinator, Krome Center, Homestead, FL
Martha Nungessor, Everglades Division, SFWMD, West Palm Beach, FL
David Rudnick, Everglades Division, SFWMD
Steve Davis, RECOVER Division, SFWMD, West Palm Beach, FL
Mike Duever, Lower West Coast Division, SFWMD, Ft. Myers, FL
Susan Teel, EPA, Fish & Wildlife Liaison, Vero Beach, FL
USFWS, Everglades RECOVER group, Vero Beach, FL
Florida Marine Research Institute
Florida Department of Environmental protection


Title of Task 1: Coastal wetlands hydrology sampling
Task Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative
Task Leader: Gordon H. Anderson
Phone: 305-242-7891
FAX: 305-242-7836
Task Status: ACTIVE
Task priority: HIGH
Time Frame for Task 1: See time frame above
Task Personnel: Fara Ilami (CSC), Christa Walker (CSC), volunteers from The Netherlands, part-time student hires

Task Summary and Objectives: This task will continue the operation and sampling of the surface- and ground-water monitoring network in the wetlands of the coastal Everglades. The 17 stations in the network are arrayed along five transects: Chatham River, Lostmans River, Shark River, Joe Bay, and Highway Creek. Unlike the coastal and marine sites operated by Everglades NP or the WRD, these sites are in vegetated wetlands, not channels. All of the sites are instrumented to collect stage and conductivity, and some have rain gauges. In FY02 the instrumentation was upgraded with equipment from the Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility. The objectives of this task collection are to: 1) provide baseline data of hydrological conditions in the coastal wetlands (mangrove forests and fresh and salt marshes) of the Everglades prior to restoration; 2) collect data concerning water quality in coastal wetlands, particularly for sediment porewater; 3) examine for differences between similar vegetation communities along different river systems; 4) collect hydrological data for use in ecosystem modeling efforts for CERP (e.g. TIME, SICS, ATLSS); 5) provide data that can be used to assess patterns of mangrove forest growth to develop performance measures for CERP. Additionally, we work closely with colleagues in other disciplines. For example, the newly initiated "Gradient Study," that is working in the tidal channels, is establishing discharge stations near our sites in the wetlands, and this increases the value of both studies for CERP.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: In FY04 we will complete the instrument upgrade. The equipment at each station will be maintained in good working order. Standard protocols will be followed to ensure compatibility of the data with other sampling regimes. Data are recorded at 15min intervals and downloaded daily. Data are stored on the Park's mainframe computer. QA/QC will be carried out using accepted SOPs. Sediment porewater samples will be collected quarterly from a subset of sites in the network (those on the Shark and Harney Rivers). WQ samples are collected using methods developed by the Ocala Water lab. Samples are prepped in the field and the shipped to Ocala via an overnight courier for processing. An Open-File Report will be prepared that contains period of record data for the sites in the C-111, Lostmans River and Chatham River transects. A second OFR discussing the water quality data will also be produced.

Planned Outreach: Task personnel will present regular briefings to clients and make all data readily available. Presentations at scientific meetings will be made. Open-File Reports containing the data will be produced and disseminated. Additional publications will consist of papers for refereed journals and Fact Sheets. All publications will be posted on SOFIA. Two abstracts based on hydrology and WQ data have been accepted and will be presented at the upcoming Estuarine Research Federation meeting.

Title of Task 2: Coastal vegetation dynamics
Task Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative
Task Leader: Thomas J. Smith III
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3130
FAX: 727-803-2030
Task Status: Active
Task priority: HIGH
Time Frame for Task 2: See time frame above.
Task Personnel: Kevin Whelan (USGS), Gordon Anderson (USGS), Fara Ilami (CSC), contractor TBN

Task Summary and Objectives: Vegetation sampling in the coastal wetlands of the Everglades was initiated in 1992. The plot network was expanded following the "mangrove die-off" event in Florida Bay in the mid-1990s. FY03 marked the 10th anniversary of the mangrove plot network and 10 years since the passage of Hurricane Andrew. Plots are located in a variety of coastal vegetation communities including: mangrove forest (both disturbed and undisturbed), spikerush, sawgrass and needlerush marshes, mixed mangrove - marsh, and high salinity salt flats. Plots are located in numerous state and federal protected areas including: Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 10,000 Island National Wildlife Refuge, Everglades National Park and Bahia Honda State Park. Continued re-sampling of the plots is leading to an understanding of vegetation dynamics in relation to a variety of factors including fire, freeze, disturbance (large and small), and most importantly hydrology (surface and ground water). Many plots are co-located with hydrology wells (Task 1) and Sediment Elevation Tables (Task 3), which increase their utility for long-term monitoring for CERP.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: In FY04 we will re-sample all plots along the Shark and Harney Rivers (in ENP), the plots in the RBNERR and 10,000 Island NWR. One half of the plots in Florida Bay will be re-sampled in FY04 and the remaining half in FY05. If an event occurs (e.g. a major Hurricane) we will mobilize to sample all affected plots. We will also sample all plots associated with the Sediment Elevation Tables (see Task 3) and the mangrove / marsh burn study. Mr. Kevin Whelan will continue his study of gap dynamics in mangroves and how increasing freshwater inflow from the restoration will affect gap dynamics. Data analyses will be conducted to relate growth dynamics of the three species of mangroves with the hydrologic parameters measured as part of Task 1. A manuscript will be prepared and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Planned Outreach: Task personnel will participate in presentations at scientific meetings and briefings for client agencies. A manuscript describing the relationship of mangrove growth to hydrologic parameters will be prepared and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Additional publications will consist of OFRs and Fact Sheets, which will be posted on SOFIA. An abstract based on gap disturbance work has been accepted and will be presented at the upcoming Estuarine Research Federation meeting.

Title of Task 3: Wetlands sediment surface elevation
Task Funding: USGS Place-Based Studies Initiative (formerly funded by BRD-GCC program)
Task Leaders: Thomas J. Smith III
Phone: 727-803-8747 x 3130
FAX: 727-803-2030
Task Status: Active
Task priority: HIGH
Time Frame for Task 3: See time frame above.
Task Personnel: Kevin Whelan (USGS), Gordon Anderson (USGS), Fara Ilami (CSC), Ginger Tiling (ETI), Jeff Dismukes (ETI)

Task Summary and Objectives: Sediment elevation in wetlands is crucial to controlling the vegetation community. In the Everglades, very minor changes may have large affects. CERP recognizes that measurements of surface elevation are an important indicator of restoration success and the MAP calls for measuring surface elevation in both coastal wetlands and in the ridge and slough. The objective of this task is to continue sampling an extant network of Sediment Elevation Tables in the coastal Everglades. The network consists of two transects of SETs running from upstream freshwater marsh sites to downstream mangrove forested sites. Three locations are along the Lostmans River and five along the Shark River.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: Conduct quarterly measurements of surface elevation at the following sites: SH1, SH2, SH3, BSC-mud, BSC-forest, LO1, LO2, and LO3 (SH = Shark River, LO = Lostmans River, BSC = Big Sable Creek). Sediment elevation tables were installed at all of these sites between 1998 and 2001. Additionally, feldspar marker layers were placed at the sites to measure rates of sediment accretion. Permanent vegetation plots and surface water and ground water wells are located at all sites (see Task 1 & 2).

Planned Outreach: Project personnel will provide briefing and presentations to cooperators and clients as requested. A seminar discussing the results to date will be prepared and given to staff at both Everglades NP and SFWMD. Presentations will also be given to appropriate scientific forums (the PI was recently invited to present the SET work at the 7th International Wetlands Conference (sponsored by the International Society for Ecology) in July 2004. Two papers will be prepared for submission to the refereed literature: one dealing with short-term (within a year) changes in sediment elevation as measured by three different types of SETs, and a second dealing with longer changes in elevation along a fresh to salt water gradient. OFRs and Fact Sheets will constitute a second for of publication to disseminate our research results and they will be posted on the SOFIA website.


This project will provide information for specific water delivery projects identified in the draft DOI science plan, including: CSOP (Mod-Waters) and C-111 Spreader Canal, Henderson Creek - Belle Meade Restoration, Southwest Florida Feasibility Study, and the Southern Golden Gate Estates Hydrologic Restoration Projects, to name a few. This project has hydrology stations, vegetation plots and/or SETs located within the boundaries of all of these projects. The joint nature of the data collected will allow monitoring of CERP success in coastal wetlands and provide information for several performance measures. Data from the Mangrove Hydrology Sampling Network are relevant to ongoing modeling efforts in WRD, particularly for SICS and TIME. The vegetation plot data will be useful for modeling the mangrove and coastal zone that has been initiated by the ATLSS program.

| Disclaimer | Privacy Statement | Accessibility |

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
This page is:
Comments and suggestions? Contact: Heather Henkel - Webmaster
Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:08 PM(KP)