Ecological Modeling in Support of the Western Everglades Restoration Project

Science Center Objects

Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) provides ecological models tailored to address specific management issues, for example, the Western Everglades Restoration Project.

Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) example from EverView

Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) example from EverView

(Public domain.)

Joint Ecosystem Modeling example for RECOVER science team

Joint Ecosystem Modeling example for RECOVER science team

(Public domain.)

The Science Issue and Relevance: Ecological models facilitate the evaluation and assessment of alternative approaches to restore the Greater Everglades ecosystem. Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) provides ecological models tailored to address specific management issues. The multi-agency REstoration, COordination and VErification (RECOVER) science team uses ecological models (i.e., ecological planning tools) to evaluate the potential effects of projects in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) on natural resources. The Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP), which aims to improve the quality, quantity, timing, and distribution of water needed to restore and reconnect the western Everglades ecosystem, is a part of CERP. Therefore, the RECOVER team wants to evaluate the ecological effects of alternative restoration plans under consideration within WERP.

 

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: We will produce and evaluate ecological models with the Western Everglades Restoration Plan hydrologic baselines using downscaled hydrology data from the South Florida Water Management District. We will develop model expansions to include the Western Everglades extended spatial footprint and test the hydrologic baseline for specific models. We will then conduct exploratory analyses on hydrologic parameters and trends of hydrologic model outputs and run a suite of ecological models with the alternative hydrologic scenarios. Last, we will run the suite of ecological models with the final array of the hydrologic baselines and alternative scenarios to understand the potential implications of selecting alternative hydrologic scenarios on modeled species.

 

Future Steps: The outputs from our models will be used by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other restoration partners in three ways: 1) to provide insight into whether some alternative restoration plans perform better ecologically than others, 2) to indicate whether alternatives could lead to unintended ecological conditions, and 3) to investigate the effects of alternatives that could conflict with other CERP goals.