Evaluating Ecological Vulnerabilities of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem to Provide Decision Support for Restoration

Science Center Objects

USGS scientists develop decision support tools to help inform management and restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.

Mangroves in South Florida

Mangroves in South Florida

(Public domain.)

The Science Issue and Relevance: Over the past decade, we have greatly advanced our understanding of the Everglades’ ecological vulnerabilities and restoration needs. However, we have yet to apply this knowledge in a system-wide, integrated manner. RECOVER’s (REstoration COordination & VERification) Five-Year Plan called for the development and application of an ecosystem vulnerability model that would enable integrative analysis of ecological responses to multiple ecological stressors and restoration actions that operate on a wide range of scales.

Wading birds in tree branches in South Florida

Wading birds in the Greater Everglades

(Public domain.)

 

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: We will use Bayesian belief networks to model two systems within the Greater Everglades ecosystem, which will serve as case studies that can be expanded upon to model the overall Everglades landscape. This includes the construction of influence diagrams for a system that links the spatial, temporal, abiotic, and biotic factors impacting the system. These Bayesian networks will then be parameterized with conditional probabilities based on available data such as published models or expert opinion. Finally, we will perform sensitivity analysis and identify vulnerabilities of the constructed networks.

 

Future Steps: The two case studies will be expanded upon to include the entire Everglades ecosystem in anticipation of its use as a decision support tool. System inputs will be updated based on projected hydrologic or climatic changes and highly sensitive parts of the system will be identified.

 

Evaluating Ecological Vulnerabilities of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem to Provide Decision Support for Restoration

Bayesian belief networks will be used to model two systems in the Greater Everglades ecosystem.

(Public domain.)