Multispecies Operational Forecasting in the Florida Everglades

Science Center Objects

A USGS forecasting tool helps Everglades natural resource managers identify management actions that can benefit one or more species while quantifying the potential costs to others. 

Everglades Forecasting (EverForecast) simulations data

Everglades Forecasting (EverForecast) produces simulations of forecasted water levels

(Public domain.)

The Science Issue and Relevance: Water flow, depth, distribution, and quality drive the ecological integrity of Florida’s Greater Everglades. We developed the Everglades Forecasting (EverForecast) application that produces simulations of forecasted water levels to determine optimal outcomes for a suite of ecological responses from species of interest (e.g., wood stork, apple snail). This application allows decision-makers to identify management actions that can benefit a species or suite of species, while explicitly quantifying the potential costs to others. Forecasting water stage values can assist water managers in making decisions according to their management priorities and enables managers to plan for, rather than react to, environmental change.

 

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: EverForecast creates a set of near-term (up to 6-months) simulated water levels at 200+ gages in South Florida by comparing real-time stage values to a set of historic stage values from the Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) and adjusting for forecasted precipitation. Each of these forecasts is then run through distribution models of Everglades species (e.g., Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, American Alligator) to determine spatially-explicit species outcomes. Using the predicted species responses, the water level simulations are ranked and scored.

 

Future Steps: Historically, natural resource management actions in the Everglades have focused on one species at a time. Given the often-conflicting hydrologic preferences of species of concern, EverForecast allows managers to examine optimal allocations of water across the Everglades while considering species with conflicting needs. This tool can aid water managers in developing regional water management targets to maximize landscape-scale benefits by providing the flexibility to define objectives by weighing the importance of multiple species. In light of growing concern over the frequency and severity of episodic weather events, near-term forecasts of hydrologic conditions and an integrated evaluation of ecological responses can help guide real-time decision-making and long-term restoration planning.

 

Map of Everglades Forecasting (EverForecast) simulations

Everglades Forecasting (EverForecast) helps managers plan for environmental change.

(Public domain.)