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projects > improving linkages and integration between management issues and science needs for landscape conservation (via shc) in the greater everglades > work plan

Project Work Plan

Department of Interior USGS GE PES
Fiscal Year 2012 Study Work Plan

Study Title: Improving linkages and integration between management issues and science needs for Landscape Conservation (via SHC) in the Greater Everglades.
Study Start Date: 2004 (FY05) Study End Date: FY12
Web Sites: http://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/index.php?project_url=link_integration
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park, or Refuge): Primarily South Florida includingthe boundaries defined by the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, and the Multi-Species Recovery Plan, but also extending further north to encompass all of the area within the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative and as needed the rest of the Southeast Region defined by FWS.
Funding Source: USGS SE Regional Office (via GE PES) and FWS SE Regional Office (Region 4)
Funding History: FY05; FY06; FY07; FY08; FY09; FY10 USGS Funding; FY11 USGS Funding; FY12 USGS Funding
Principal Investigator: Laura A. Brandt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Region 4), Fort Lauderdale, FL
Supporting Organizations: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), University of Florida, National Park Service (NPS)

Overview & Objective(s): Restoration of the Everglades and other ecosystems requires a coordinated, integrated approach to addressing management issues using the best available scientific information. Because of the scope and scale of ecosystem restoration and management it is critical that the conservation community work together to address scientific and management challenges to most effectively use scarce resources at their disposal. USGS is in an ideal position to provide the scientific information necessary for managers and decision makers to help develop new science information and science tools, and to help inform resource management about promising resource management options; however, for that to happen science needs must be clearly articulated and research results communicated and integrated into management decisions.

Reviews of two science focused programs, the Critical Ecosystems Study Initiative (CESI), and Science Coordination in South Florida, conducted by the National Academy of Science (2003) and the General Accounting Office (2003), respectively have identified improving science coordination, synthesis and integration of research data, and communication of research findings as high priority tasks that are necessary for Everglades Restoration. In addition, the NPS, FWS and USGS have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Integration of Research, Planning, and Interagency Coordination which was established to "...integrate and facilitate coordination among the Parties for all ongoing and future monitoring, research, planning and interagency coordination activities supporting Everglades Restoration". At a broader scale, FWS is working to expand capacities to acquire, apply, and communicate scientific information, and encourage and strengthen partnerships between FWS and other scientific organizations, particularly USGS. Critical parts of that effort include identifying what science information is needed, where that information can be obtained, and how best to use the information to inform management decisions. With increasing challenges and decreasing budgets the conservation community has realized that cooperative and collaborative approaches will result in the greatest likelihood that we can sustain landscapes capable of supporting natural populations of fish, wildlife, and plants.

This project addresses integration and synthesis of science for ecosystem restoration and landscape conservation through a combination of science needs identification, research, monitoring, modeling, and structured decision making. In addition, it contributes to fostering strong working relationships between FWS and USGS at local and regional scales.

The focus for FY12 will be on identification, development, implementation, and integration into the decision process of collaborative research to support Everglades restoration and management, and FWS's landscape approach to conservation.

The objectives of this project in FY12 are to:

  1. Work with managers (especially those in FWS) and scientists (especially those in USGS) to identify science needs, develop research, monitoring, and modeling efforts, and incorporate results into decisions related to DOI conservation issues, with special emphasis on FWS high priority needs for landscape conservation and responses to climate change.
  2. Integrate information learned on strengthening FWS/USGS working relationship into a document that can be used within FWS and USGS to foster and improve linkages between the two agencies.

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified:

The study supports the DOI Science Plan by providing scientific information for integrated evaluation and assessment of ecosystem restoration. It provides priority information for making landscape level restoration decisions that consider multiple species or trophic levels or that maximize biodiversity within an ecological system. Specifically, this study supports the DOI science plan information needs under Landscape-Scale Modeling of improved ecological models; integrated hydrology and ecology models; and incorporation of models into the monitoring and adaptive assessment program. It supports FWS's landscape approach to conservation (SHC) by providing tools and information that support the functional elements of Conservation Planning, Conservation Design, Monitoring, and Research in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. In addition, it supports efforts by both FWS and USGS to integrate USGS scientific capabilities with FWS research needs and bolster FWS's science capacity.

Status:

During FY11, eight manuscripts were submitted. Two were accepted and in press; 2 accepted with revision; 2 rejected and in revision to submit elsewhere; 2 waiting to hear from journal; 1 no longer under consideration. One additional manuscript is in prep (see list below).

Collaborative work continued on the use of crocodilians and amphibians as indicators of environmental change including initial analysis of alligator body condition at A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in relation to hydrology with linkages to hydrologic work that Dr. Paul Conrads is doing. I continued to advise Ryan Lynch, a University of Florida Masters student on his amphibian occupancy in A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR. Ryan provided his data and analysis to Dr. Hardin Waddle for incorporation into the Greater Everglades Amphibian model. Hardin and I developed and submitted a proposal for consideration for funding under the joint FWS/USGS Quick Response program to determine occupancy of round-tailed muskrats in relation to hydrology in A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR.

During the early part of the fiscal year I lead a team in compilation of science information needs for the Gulf of Mexico (see report section below) with the intent to have FWS science information needs more clearly articulated as a way to facilitate discussions with USGS scientists on work in response to the oil spill.

I continued to work on the joint FWS/USGS/NPS/University of Florida climate envelope modeling project including making several presentations to FWS staff.

Recent Products:

Manuscripts

Bernhardt, Christopher E., Laura A. Brandt, Debra A. Willard and Bryan Landacre. Reconstructing Vegetation Response to Altered Hydrology and its use for Restoration, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida. In Prep. To be submitted to Wetlands.

Lynch, Ryan L. Laura A. Brandt, Hongjun Chen, Danielle Ogurcak, Ikuko Fujisaki, Frank J. Mazzotti. Recruitment and Growth of Lygodium microphyllum (Old World climbing fern) in Hurricane-Caused Canopy Gaps. In Press. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management.

Mazzotti, Frank J., Michael S. Cherkiss, Laura A. Brandt, Ikuko Fujisaki, Kristen Hart, Brian Jeffrey, Scott T. McMurry, Steven G. Platt, Thomas R. Rainwater, and Joy Vinci. Submitted. Body Condition of Morelet's Crocodiles (Crocodylus moreletii) from Northern Belize. In Press Journal of Herpetology.

Millard, Michael J., Craig A. Czarnecki, John M. Morton, Laura A. Brandt, Jennifer S. Briggs, Frank S. Shipley, Roger Sayre, Pamela J. Sponholtz, David Perkins, Darin G. Simpkins, Janith Taylor. A National Geographic Framework for 21st Century Conservation. Accepted with Revision Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management.

Pifer, Emily K., Laura A. Brandt, and Frank J. Mazzotti. Preliminary surveys for round-tailed muskrats in Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Accepted with Revision. Florida Scientist.

Romañach, Stephanie S., Laura A. Brandt, Leonard G. Pearlstine, James I. Watling, and Frank J. Mazzotti. Setting priorities for conservation action based on habitat for threatened and endangered species in southern Florida. Submitted to International Journal of Ecology. No longer active.

Watling, James I., Yesenia Escribano, Laura A. Brandt, Stephanie S. Romañach, Leonard G. Pearlstine, Robert J. Fletcher, Jr, and Frank. J. Mazzotti. Alternative climate inputs can change the spatial signature of predictions in climate envelope models. Submitted to Ecography. Rejected. Being Revised for submission to Diversity and Distributions.

Watling James I, Stephanie S. Romañach, Laura A. Brandt, Leonard G. Pearlstine and Frank J. Mazzotti. Do bioclimate variables improve performance of climate envelope models? Submitted and rejected from Biology Letters and Ecological Applications. Being Revised for submission to Ecological Modeling.

Zhongwei Liu, Laura A. Brandt, Danielle E. Ogurcak, and Frank J. Mazzotti. Morphometric characteristics of alligator holes in Everglades National Park, Florida from 1994 to 2007. Submitted to Journal of Hydrology.

Abstracts/presentations

Bernhardt, Christopher E., Laura A. Brandt, Debra A. Willard and Bryan Landacre. Reconstructing Vegetation Response to Altered Hydrology and its use for Restoration, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida. Abstract for National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration. August 2011, Baltimore, MD. (Presenter of oral presentation)

Brandt, Laura A., Christopher E. Bernhardt, G. Ronnie Best, Mike Cherkiss, Hongjun Chen, Rafael Crespo, Ikuko Fujisaki, Brian Jeffrey, Wiley M. Kitchens, Bryan Landacre, Ryan Lynch, Frank J. Mazzotti, Danielle Ogurcak, H. Franklin Percival, Kenneth G. Rice, Christina Ugarte, Debra A. Willard. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and University of Florida Cooperative Research at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation. FWS National Wildlife Refuges Conference. July 2011 Madison WI. (Poster)

Brandt, Laura A, G. Ronnie Best, Frank J. Mazzotti Kristen M. Hart, Stephanie S. Romañach, James I. Watling, Ikuko Fujisaki, Michael S. Cherkiss, Brian Jeffrey, Emily K. Pifer, Rebecca Harvey, Skip Snow, Leonard G. Pealstine. Research, Monitoring, and Modeling in Support of Everglades Restoration: A Collaborative Approach. Abstract for National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration. August 2011, Baltimore, MD. (Poster)

Brandt, Laura A., Hongjun Chen, Ikuko Fujisaki, Ryan L. Lynch, Rafael G. Crespo, Frank J. Mazzotti. Hurricane impacts and colonization of Lygodium microphyllum on tree islands of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida. Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation. FWS National Wildlife Refuges Conference. July 2011 Madison WI. (Poster)

Brandt, Laura A., Stephanie S. Romañach, and James I. Watling. Developing climate envelope models for threatened and endangered vertebrates in peninsular Florida. Everglades National Park, May 2011. Presented by James Watling.

Brandt, Laura A. and Steve Traxler.   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Science Needs Relative to Sea Level Rise with a Focus on South Florida. Abstract for Influence of Sea Level Rise on Natural Systems of the Greater Everglades. April 2011. Boca Raton, FL.

Brandt, Laura A., James I. Watling, Stephanie S. Romañach, and Frank J. Mazzotti. Planning for climate change: Climate envelope models a piece of the puzzle. Oral presentation at: USFWS Area II Project Leaders Meeting, St. Petersburg, FL, May 2011, USFWS Southeast Region Climate Change Team Meeting, Raleigh, NC June 2011 and USFWS Regional Office, Atlanta, GA August 2011. Presented by Laura Brandt.

Fujisaki, Ikuko, Frank J. Mazzotti, Kristen M. Hart, Ken G. Rice, Brain M. Jeffery, Laura A. Brandt, Mike C. Cherkiss, and Cristina A. Ugarte. Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) as an indicator of ecological change in Greater Everglades ecosystems. November 2011 The Wildlife Society. Hawaii.

Watling, James I., Laura A. Brandt, Carolina V. Cabal, Frank J. Mazzotti, Stephanie S. Romañach. Species at risk from climate change: the case of Florida Keys endemics. May 2011 TNC and USFWS Florida Keys Sea Level Rise Adaptation Workshop Hawks Cay, FL. Presented by James Watling.

Watling, James I, Laura A. Brandt, Stephanie S. Romañach. Wildlife species at risk--climate envelope models, SLR and Florida Keys endemics. Oral presentation at: UNESCO-IHE International Students Partnership Lecture series, Ft Lauderdale, FL, June 2011. Presented by James Watling.

Watling, James I., Yesenia Escribano, Laura A. Brandt, Stephanie S. Romañach, Leonard G. Pearlstine, Robert J. Fletcher, Jr, and Frank. J. Mazzotti. Alternative climate inputs can change the spatial signature of predictions in climate envelope models. August 2011 Ecological Society of America Austin, TX.

Proposals

Romañach, Stephanie S., James I. Watling, Laura A. Brandt, Frank J. Mazzotti, Ikuko Fujiski, Robert J. Fletcher, Leonard G. Pearlstine. Forecasting climate-induced habitat shifts in the southeastern United States. Submitted to Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) March 2011. Not Funded.

FWS/USGS SSP Proposal: Integrating land cover into predictive models of threatened and endangered species responses to climate change with Stephanie Romañach (USGS), James Watling (UF), Carolina Cabal (UF). Funded for FY12&13.

FWS/USGS QR Proposal: Occupancy of round-tailed muskrats (Neofiber alleni) in relation to hydrology in A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR. With Franklin Percival (USGS), Hardin Waddle (USGS), Frank Mazzotti (UF). Not Funded.

Five proposals for National Wildlife Refuge's call for Inventory and Monitoring proposals. None Funded.

Monitoring American alligator abundance and body condition in Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge as an indicator of ecosystem status.

Inventory of baseline conditions for integrated monitoring of invasive reptiles and amphibians in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Refuge

Inventory of baseline conditions for integrated monitoring of invasive reptiles and amphibians in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuges

Monitoring occupancy of round-tailed muskrats (Neofiber alleni) in relation to hydrology in Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

A monitoring program for the American crocodile in the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Reports

Watling, James, I., Laura A. Brandt, Emily Pifer, Yesenia Escribano, Frank J. Mazzotti, and Stephanie S. Romañach. 2010. Climate envelope modeling for evaluating anticipated effects of climate change on threatened and endangered species. Final Report. Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Davie, FL.

Watling, James, I., Laura A. Brandt, Emily Pifer, Carolina Cabal, Yesenia Escribano, Frank J. Mazzotti, and Stephanie S. Romañach. 2011. Climate envelope modeling for evaluating anticipated effects of climate change on threatened and endangered species. April 2011 update. Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Davie, FL.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service effort to compile science information needs for the Gulf of Mexico. Prepared for FWS Region 4 Regional Directorate Team by the Science Needs Team led by Laura Brandt. December 2010. (includes spreadsheets with needs, lists of possible priority species, and documents used).

Planned Products for FY12:

At least one peer reviewed publication (submitted) on research conducted with USGS scientists with direct relevance to Everglades ecosystem restoration. Possible topics and collaborators include:

Response of Wetlands in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to Hydrologic Changes: Anthropogenic and Climate Impacts. Bernhardt, Christopher E., Laura A. Brandt, Bryan Landacre, and Debra A. Willard. To be submitted to: Wetlands. In Prep.

Comparison of several methods for trend analysis of alligators. With Hardin Waddle and others.

Relationship of alligator body condition to long-term patterns of hydrology. With Paul Conrads and others.

Comparative analysis of patterns of change in alligator body condition or relative density across management units in south Florida. With Kristen Hart and others.

At least one fact sheet describing the intent and benefits of joint USGS/FWS positions for better integration of science and management.

Summary document describing work accomplished under this agreement with discussion of how "institutionalizing" such agreements can benefit both USGS and FWS.

Initial list of high priority FWS science needs for South Florida with linkage to USGS capability to address them.

WORK PLAN

Task 1: Work with managers (especially those in FWS) and scientists (especially those in USGS), to identify high priority science needs related to DOI conservation issues, with special emphasis on Everglades restoration and FWS high priority needs for landscape conservation and responses to climate change.
Task Leaders: Laura A. Brandt
Phone: 954-577-6343
FAX: 954-475-4125
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Various managers and scientists within FWS including those in South Florida, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and the Regional Office. Various USGS science center and program directors and scientists within the Southeast.

Task Summary and Objective(s): For at least the last six years both FWS and USGS have articulated a desire to develop stronger linkages between the agencies. A challenge to doing this for FWS is in clear articulation of management related science needs and identification of who can help them to meet those science needs. A challenge for USGS is in knowing what the management issues are and understanding the science needs well enough to develop projects that can address those needs. The objective of this task is to facilitate identification of management issues that would benefit from science support and make linkages between the needs and the scientists who can help to meet those needs.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:

Work with FWS staff involved with the Central Everglades Planning Process, Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and South Florida Ecoteam to develop a mechanism for identifying and prioritizing management related science needs (with particular emphasis on CEPP and climate change). Work with USGS staff at science centers, coop units, climate science centers and other programs to identify scientists who have the expertise to meet high priority science needs.

Specific Task Products:

Product

Delivery Date

Trimester report

January, 31, 2011

Trimester report

May 31, 2011

Annual report

September 30, 2011

Task 2: Work with managers and scientists, to develop implement, and integrate into the decision process research, monitoring, and modeling efforts related to DOI conservation issues, with special emphasis on Everglades restoration and FWS high priority needs for landscape conservation and responses to climate change.
Task Leaders: Laura A. Brandt
Phone: 954-577-6343
FAX: 954-475-4125
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: FWS: Lori Miller, Steve Traxler. USGS: Chris Bernhardt, Mike Cherkiss, Paul Conrads, Kristen Hart, Stephanie Romanach, Hardin Waddle, Debra Willard. NPS: Leonard Pearlstine, Dilip Shinde. Universtiy of Florida: Brian Jeffery, Frank Mazzotti. Others as determined by products and needs.

Task Summary and Objective(s): Research, monitoring, and modeling efforts have their most value in the decision making process if they are linked to management needs, and are credible and accessible. Collaborative efforts that link researchers who have a more management perspective with those with a more foundation science perspective can lead to high impact, high quality credible products. Publishing results of research and modeling work in peer reviewed journals is one way to establish credibility while preparing fact sheets and giving presentations are ways to make the information more accessible to the users. This task will focus on conducting and reporting on research, monitoring, and modeling of high relevance to Everglades restoration, Strategic Habitat Conservation, and climate change.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:

Link ecological monitoring and research to Everglades management and restoration planning and decisions through the use of modeling and data synthesis. Work with NPS and University of Florida scientists to evaluate and improve revised alligator Habitat Suitability Index with the goal of having it used in the decision process for the Central Everglades Planning Process (CEPP).

Continue synthesis of crocodilian data collected under RECOVER MAP with comparisons among areas with different hydrologic conditions (A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR-an area with multi-year hydroperiods compared to the other Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park and Big Cypress which have areas that dry out at differing frequencies and intensities). The goal of this effort is to assess the ability of using space as a surrogate for time as a way to bring information on expected responses of crocodilians to Everglades restoration into evaluations of alternative restoration plans.

Specific Task Products:

Product

Delivery Date

Trimester report

January, 31, 2011

Trimester report

May 31, 2011

Annual report

September 30, 2011

Task 3: Synthesize and summarize lessons learned about strengthening linkages between USGS and FWS.
Task Leaders: Laura A. Brandt
Phone: 954-577-6343
FAX: 954-475-4125
Task priority: High
Task Personnel: Other personnel as needed.

Task Summary and Objective(s): This science linkage project has been on-going since 2004 and has resulted in numerous tangible and intangible products and lessons learned. This information has application at broader scales than Greater Everglades, but has not been effectively communicated at those broader scales.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:

In FY12 the information from previous years will be synthesized in a report (and potentially a publication) that outlines lessons learned, potential mechanisms for continued improvement of linkage of science and management, and mechanisms for fostering strong working relationships between FWS and USGS.

Specific Task Products:

Product

Delivery Date

Trimester report

January, 31, 2011

Trimester report

May 31, 2011

Annual report

September 30, 2011