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Project Work Plan

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

Fiscal Year 2006 Study Work Plan

Study Title: Ecological Models for Evaluating Effects of Restoration Alternatives on Coastal Ecosystems of Southwest Florida
Study Start Date: 2003 Study End Date: 2007 or end of SW Florida Feasibility Study
Web Sites:,
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): The boundaries of the Southwest Florida Feasibility Study (SWFFS). This includes all of Lee County, most of Collier and Hendry counties, and portions of Charlotte, Glades, and Monroe counties.
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Other Complementary Funding Source(s):
Funding History: FY03; FY04; FY05; FY06 Proposed
Principal Investigator(s): Frank J. Mazzotti and Leonard G. Pearlstine, University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center; Ken Rice, US Geological Survey, Fort Lauderdale.
Study Personnel: Kevin Chartier and ZongBo Shang
Supporting Organizations: USGS, USACOE, SFWMD
Associated / Linked Studies: A Spatially Explicit Decision Support System for Everglades Ecological Assessment and Restoration (GE PES)

Overview & Objective(s): The objectives of this project are to develop and apply forecasting models to evaluate the impacts of CERP projects on ecological attributes selected from the conceptual models as part of the SWFFS.

Project Background and Relation to CERP: The SWFFS is a component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The SWFFS will result in an independent but integrated implementation plan for CERP projects. The SWFFS will provide a framework to address the health and sustainability of aquatic systems. This includes water quantity and quality, flood protection, and ecological integrity. The SWFFS was initiated in recognition of the fact that there were additional water resource issues (needs, problems, and opportunities) within southwest Florida that were not being addressed directly by CERP. A purpose of the SWFFS is to identify alternatives that address those issues in the study area. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effects of those alternatives on ecosystems of southwest Florida.

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified: (Page numbers below refer to DOI Science Plan.)

Relevance to DOI science plan: The study supports Lower West Coast projects in the DOI science plan (specifically: Southwest Florida Feasibility Study and C-43 Basin Storage Reservoir) by (a) developing stress-response models of habitat for coastal species selected during Caloosahatchee conceptual modeling and (b) developing integrated assessment tools to support landscape level decision-making.

The study supports the Lower West Coast projects (SWFFS and C-43; p.49) as it (1) provides assessment tools that are a critical priority for making landscape level restoration decisions that favor one species or trophic level over another or that maximize biodiversity with an ecological system (p.49); spatially models the impacts of hydrologic targets on ecological conditions and the critical links between hydrology, water quality and ecological responses in southwest Florida (p.50); (3) models how hydrologic and water quality targets relate to the landscape-scale assemblages of habitats needed to support the area's fish and wildlife resources and particularly, the wide-ranging species (p.50); Geographic information system mapping for habitat database of hydrologic restoration contributions to listed species and the protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife value (p.50); and aids in the identification of key indicator of the desired ecological responses (p.51). Specifically, this study supports the following science plan information needs:

Southwest Florida Feasibility Study
Medium Models capable of predicting trophic- or species-level responses to habitat changes
Landscape-Scale Modeling
Critical Improved ecological models
Critical Integrated hydrology / water quality / ecology models
Critical Improved accessibility of modeling data
Critical Spatially explicit habitat suitability index models: indicator species sensitive to hydrologic change
Critical Incorporation of models into the monitoring and adaptive assessment program

This study supports information needs for SWFFS activities that impact ecological communities. The decision aids and methodologies for decision-making are implicit in the DOI Science Plan which requires the gathered science to be integrated and applied to restoration. The ecological modeling, synthesis of science information, and application of decision aids specifically supports CERP as it (1) helps with prioritization of science resource allocations (p.11); (2) helps decision-makers in establishing specific goals and objectives in the context of conflicting priorities and adaptive management (pp. 10,15 & 17); and (3) provides a systematic and documented procedure to evaluating alternatives for what actions will restore, protect, and manage natural resources in South Florida (p. 9).

Relevance to MAP: This study supports information needs in the Caloosahatchee estuary for the CERP hypothesis (the restoration of hydrology toward NSM conditions will provide estuarine habitat conditions so as to (1) improve the spatial and structural characteristics of submerged plant communities, (2) improve the recruitment and survivorship of the eastern oyster, and (3) promote the recovery of the relative abundance and distribution of fish communities. (p.3-114) and the Adaptive Management Question (Will the restoration of favorable flow and salinity regimes achieve restoration objectives for estuarine epibenthic habitats, thus providing for an increase in the distribution and density of representative estuarine fauna? If not, what additional changes in the flow and salinity regimes are necessary? (p.3-114) by modeling the impacts of alternative hydrologic inflows on estuarine habitat for Caloosahatchee Ecological Attributes: submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster, and fisheries (blue crab and spotted sea trout) (p.A-146 - p.A-148). These attributes are derived from CERP MAP conceptual model for the Caloosahatchee Estuary (pA-160). Specific Research Questions supported by the modeling include (1) Relationship of Blue Crab Fishery to Temperature, Salinity and Other Water Quality Parameters, (2) Relationship of Mollusk Populations and Fish Recruitment to Submerged Aquatic Vegetation and Salinity, and (3) Relationship of Current and Historical Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Coverage to Potential Distribution (p. A-157).

It is expected that the modeled habitat will serve as a basis for sampling design and monitoring which will lead to refinements in the models and, consequently, refinements in management of hydrologic releases for the protection of coastal natural resources. This planned protocol implements the adaptive assessment strategy (p.2-7 and p.A-1).

Status: Models for the American Oyster, Blue Crab, Sea Trout, Sea Grasses (Halodule and Thalassia) , and a Freshwater Submerged Grass (Vallisneria) have been completed and are being peer-reviewed. A modeling and habitat evaluation application to aid decision support has been completed. Literature and modeling parameters for inland species and communities (wading birds, amphibians, aquatic fauna, and landscape metrics) are being synthesized. Runs of the coastal models under alternative scenarios are in progress. Additional hydrologic input for alternative runs of the ecological models will be supplied by the SFWMD, but are still in preparation.

Recent Products: Final models and an accompanying final report are completed for the American Oyster, the Blue Crab, and the Spotted Sea Trout. Final models are completed for the Sea Grasses and Freshwater Grass.

Planned Products: The project is implementing new evaluation models for wading birds, amphibians, aquatic fauna, and measures of landscape change. The modeling interface and decision support tools continue to be refined and expanded. A report documenting the modeled coastal habitat effects of alternative hydrological scenarios will also be created.


Title of Task 1: Develop and apply forecasting models to evaluate alternatives as they are being developed.
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Task Leaders: Frank J. Mazzotti and Leonard G. Pearlstine
Phone: (954) 577-6304 and (954) 577-6306
FAX: (954) 475-4125
Task Status (proposed or active): Active
Task priority: High
Time Frame for Task 1: FY06
Task Personnel: Kevin Chartier and ZongBo Shang
Task Summary and Objectives: The objectives of this task (and project) are to develop and apply forecasting models to evaluate the impacts of CERP projects on ecological attributes selected from the conceptual models developed as part of the SWFFS.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
Models of future conditions provide a valuable tool for understanding the potential magnitude of management/restoration alternatives. Spatial models relating the output of hydrological models and potential changes in the landscape, to amount and location of potential habitat for individual species or habitats give both a visual and a quantitative picture of effects of restoration alternatives. The first step in this process is the development of hydrological models to simulate natural and alternative hydrological systems. Hydrologic model outputs are being supplied by the USCOE and SFWMD. The SWFFS Natural System Group has agreed upon a series of land use change scenarios from predevelopment to 2050 that will be applied as base conditions to the models. This task develops ecological (species habitats as presented above) that simulate ecological responses to different land and water use scenarios. Each species or community model is created in an iterative process with work groups composed of GIS and ecological programmers working with biologists having the appropriate expertise on the target species and southwestern Florida. Ecological and land use models are being developed in the PC Windows environment to increase their availability to managers and decision-makers. The models are tested and applied to the scenarios developed with input from agency partners and focus on the potential impacts of changes in land use (both development and restoration) and changes in hydrology. These scenarios will provide the basis for forecasting the effects of restoration alternatives on selected performance measures. The models are also integrated in a Multi-Criteria Decision Model to further aid decision-makers in the selection of alternatives by collectively comparing the alternative scenarios against the model results.

All of the DOI Science Plan information needs, science questions, and MAP research needs listed above apply to this task.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]

Product Delivery Date
Progress Report (Including completion of coastal scenario evaluations) 31 April 2006
Annual Report 31 October 2006
Progress Report 31 April 2007
Final Report (Completion of inland hydrologic and land use scenario evaluations and decision support system) 31 October 2007

Work to be undertaken during future FY's and proposed funding:

This project will continue to be linked to the ecological evaluation and assessment needs of the Natural Systems Group of the South Florida Feasibility Study and, with the permission of the GE PES Coordinator, the ending date of this project will be linked as well. Evaluation models will be completed and work will be focused on continued decision support and expand to include the development and application of assessment models.

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