Joint Ecosystem Modeling: Wader Distribution & Evaluation Modeling (WADEM)

Science Center Objects

WADEM (Wader Distribution Evaluation Modeling) is a JEM model that estimates species-specific habitat suitability across the landscape for Great Egret (Ardea alba), White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) (Credit: James Beerens)

The Science Issue and Relevance: Joint Ecosystem Modeling (JEM), a partnership among federal and state agencies, universities, and other organizations, is a long-term project for developing ecological models for Florida’s Greater Everglades ecosystem. Water managers and other decision-makers use ecological models to understand how competing restoration scenarios may impact species of concern and make more informed restoration decisions. JEM provides ecological model output tailored to management decisions. Wading birds respond to changing habitat conditions and serve as indicators of ecosystem health in the Greater Everglades. WADEM (Wader Distribution Evaluation Modeling) is a JEM model that estimates species-specific habitat suitability across the landscape for Great Egret (Ardea alba), White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: WADEM estimates wading bird foraging and nesting responses to prey resources that are linked to hydrologic variables. The software provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that makes running the model intuitive and straightforward. Daily water depths and calculated hydrologic variables predict foraging conditions across the landscape (provided). WADEM creates a comprehensive set of hydrologic variables and species-specific model output that includes daily changes in selection across resource gradients, landscape abundance of flocks and individuals, conspecific foraging aggregation, and habitat quality. These outputs are delivered in the format of CSVs, NetCDFs, figures, and maps, including annual comparisons of landscape suitability for each species and metric. The model is available at jem.gov.

Wood Stork Foraging Conditions, April 9, 2018

Wood Stork Foraging Conditions, April 9, 2018
​​​​​​​(Public domain.)

Future Steps: Water managers in the Greater Everglades can use WADEM to help plan and develop short- and long-term conservation strategies based on impacts to these three indicator species. By comparing output from alternative restoration scenarios, decision-makers can evaluate the impact of competing restoration plans and make more informed decisions, thus optimizing their impact.

Related Project(s): Joint Ecosystem Modeling, Everglades Forecasting (EVER4CAST)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Great Egret (Ardea alba) (Credit: James Berrens. Public domain.)