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Project Work Plan
Department of Interior USGS GE PES
Fiscal Year 2008 Study Work Plan
Study Title: Impacts of Hydrologic and Climatic Change on Greater Everglades Marl Prairies, Marshes, and Sloughs
Overview & Objective(s): The initial objective of this project is reconstruction of marl prairie vegetation and hydroperiod for the last few centuries to evaluate impacts of climate variability and anthropogenic alteration of hydrology on this critical habitat. This research builds upon previous work throughout the Greater Everglades wetland that documents responses of tree islands and the ridge and slough landscape to natural and anthropogenic hydrologic change (completed 2007). This task requires: 1) multi-proxy analyses (pollen, charcoal, carbon isotopes, geochronology) of sediment cores from marl prairie habitats; and 2) refinements to the existing Everglades pollen calibration dataset by collecting and analyzing surface samples along vegetation transects established by M. Ross and colleagues at Florida International University.
Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified: (Page numbers below refer to DOI Science Plan.)
The importance and application of ecosystem history research to restoration goals has been identified in the DOI Science Plan in Support of Ecosystem Restoration, Preservation, and Protection in South Florida, the USGS Science Plan for south Florida, and the Everglades Multi-Species Avian Ecology and Restoration Review. The DOI Science Plan lists the need to "ensure that hydrologic performance targets accurately reflect the natural predrainage hydrology and ecology" as one of its three primary science goals (DOI Science Plan 2005, p. 16). The USGS Science Plan for south Florida (2007 draft, p. 7) identifies five primary science goals, the second of which is to "determine the historical ecological setting of the Everglades." The Everglades Multi-Species Avian Ecology and Restoration Review recognized the value of paleoecological research in understanding patterns and causes of historical vegetation changes and recommended continued research to synthesize and integrate results from previous and ongoing paleoecological studies to inform restoration planning (SEI, 2007, p. 22). The overall goal of this project, and related previous ecosystem history projects, is to document the predrainage distribution of vegetation and reconstruct paleohydrology of marl prairies, marshes, and sloughs of south Florida, in response to client groups that have been tasked with setting performance measures and targets for these key wetland habitats.
The immediate goals of this project are to develop a spatially complete reconstruction of the vegetation and hydrologic history of Everglades marl prairie habitats, to determine the timing of initial marl accumulation, and to improve our understanding of the patterns and causes of historical vegetation change. These data will be critical to improve forecasts of marl prairie response to different restoration scenarios. In subsequent years, we hope to synthesize data from wetland habitats throughout the Everglades and reconstruct vegetation and hydrology for specific time slices (i.e., predrainage Everglades (~AD 1850), early 20th century (~AD 1940), and post-C&SF Project (~AD 1960-1970). These data are needed to validate model estimates of predrainage hydrology and to verify impacts of different hydrologic changes on a range of wetland habitats.
A number of specific "major unanswered questions" listed in the DOI Science Plan can be answered by this research. These include the following:
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR Internal Canal Structures1) "What hydrologic targets will restore the natural predrainage hydrology?" (DOI Science Plan, p. 42)Water Conservation Area 3 Decompartmentalization and Sheetflow Enhancement
This study supports these CERP projects by 1) conducting research to reconstruct past vegetation and hydrology and understand relative impacts of natural climate variability and human alteration of hydrology on critical habitats; 2) determining the primary external drivers of habitat formation and degradation; 3) providing modelers with data on historic/predrainage conditions to validate model estimates of predrainage hydrology; and 4) providing a predrainage land-cover dataset for use in a range of climate and hydrologic models.
Specific Relevance to USGS Mission:
This project is directly related to two science directions in the USGS Science Strategy (USGS Circ. 1309): 1) Understanding Ecosystems and Predicting Ecosystem Change and 2) Climate Variability and Change. We are investigating the causes and consequences of ecological change over long timescales to understand impacts of natural and anthropogenic changes on the habitats throughout the greater Everglades ecosystem. These techniques are applicable to wetland and other terrestrial habitats throughout the world. This research is aimed at understanding the interactions between biological and nonbiological components of the ecosystem and evaluating consequences of environmental change for different components of the ecosystem. We use results from this research to inform land managers and policy makers on likely response of the greater Everglades wetland to different management and climate scenarios. This investigation contributes to the Climate Variability and Change direction by reconstructing late Holocene climate paleohistory and climate-related ecological, biological, and physical responses. These provide a baseline level of variability for habitats within the ecosystem and provide a basis to forecast impacts of future climate changes on this wetland ecosystem.
Status: During FY07, we identified sample sites for sediment coring in six subpopulations of the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (CSSS). Site selection was undertaken in consultation with ecologists at Everglades National Park and was designed to maximize areal coverage and targeted sites from existing vegetation transects maintained by M. Ross and colleagues at Florida International University. Coring is planned for FY08 after issuance of a sampling permit by Everglades National Park.
Title of Task 1: Impacts
of Hydrologic and Climatic Change on Greater Everglades Marl Prairies, Marshes,
Task Summary and Objectives:
The initial objective of this project is reconstruction of marl prairie vegetation and hydroperiod for the last few centuries to evaluate impacts of climate variability and anthropogenic alteration of hydrology on this critical habitat. This research builds upon previous work throughout the Greater Everglades wetland that documents responses of tree islands and the ridge and slough landscape to natural and anthropogenic hydrologic change (completed 2007). This task requires: 1) multi-proxy analyses (pollen, charcoal, carbon isotopes, geochronology) of sediment cores from marl prairie habitats; and 2) refinements to the existing Everglades pollen calibration dataset by collecting and analyzing surface samples along vegetation transects established by M. Ross and colleagues at Florida International University.
Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
We will collect a total of 70 sediment cores from 35 sites in six CSSS subpopulations We will photograph, describe, and sample at least one core from CSSS subpopulations B-F and begin pollen and geochronological analyses during FY 08. Data will be compiled into a preliminary report for ecologists at Everglades National Park
Work to be undertaken in future years:
FY09: Analysis of additional sediment cores will be undertaken after consultation with ecologists in Everglades National Park to identify most critical sites. FY10: A new sampling permit will be requested from Everglades National Park to conduct field work to address three additional questions. First, a series of surface samples will be collected along vegetation transects established by M. Ross to refine pollen-based interpretation of past vegetation in marl prairie habitats and Shark River Slough. Second, sediment cores will be collected at sites on Cape Sable known to be previously occupied by Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows. These cores will be used to determine vegetation and hydrologic characteristics associated with CSSS occupation and abandonment. Third, sediment cores will be collected at up to six additional sites in Taylor Slough and Shark River Slough. These sites will be co-located with stream gages in consultation with P. Conrads and F. Marshall for model calibration studies. FY2011 and 2012 efforts will focus on: 1) completion of marl-prairie research and submission of manuscripts to a peer-reviewed journal; 2) pollen analysis of surface samples obtained in FY10 and drafting a manuscript on results from the pollen-vegetation calibration study; and 3) pollen analysis of sediment cores collected in Taylor and Shark River Sloughs and collaboration with modelers to develop method to statistically infer past hydroperiods from down-core pollen assemblages
Specific Task Product(s):
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:09 PM(KP)