Habitat Modeling for the Endangered Everglades Snail Kite and Its Prey

Science Center Objects

Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) provides real-time habitat suitability models for species of interest in Everglades restoration planning, including the federally endangered Everglades snail kite. 

Habitat Modeling for the Endangered Everglades Snail Kite and its Prey

Models use temporal and spatial hydrologic environmental variables via the Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) as predictors of successful nest locations or snail kite movements.

(Public domain.)

The Science Issue and Relevance: Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM) provides a suite of real-time habitat suitability models for focal species in Everglades restoration planning. The EVER4CAST application generates up to 100 six-month hydrologic forecasts that are used to run each species model, allowing managers and scientists to explore the potential impacts of near-term water management decisions across species. Two critical species missing from this suite are the federally endangered Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) and its main prey source, the freshwater apple snail (Pomacea paludosa). Sufficient data now exist to create spatially explicit, real-time habitat suitability models for these species as additional decision support tools.

Female snail kite.

 Snail Kite (Credit: Paul Conrads, South Atlantic Water Science Center - South Carolina. )

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: For the snail kite, we plan to build two types of models: a nesting success model and a resource selection function (RSF) model. Both models will use temporally- and spatially-explicit hydrologic environmental variables derived via the Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) as predictors of either successful nest locations or snail kite movements. Predictors such as temperature and fire frequency will also be tested to explain additional variability in snail kite movement and nesting. For the apple snail, we plan to identify a real-time source of air temperature data to convert the JEM model EverSnail to a real-time predictor of apple snail populations.

Habitat Modeling for the Endangered Everglades Snail Kite and its Prey

Habitat suitability models for the federally endangered Everglades snail kite act are important decision support tools. 

(Public domain.)

Future Steps: These new real-time models will be integrated into the JEM suite of decision support tools on jem.gov and be used for restoration and management decisions in the Greater Everglades. Additionally, these models will be used to update and improve the individual-based model of snail kites, EVERKITE, which models the entire snail kite population across South Florida.