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Predicting outcomes of restored Everglades high flow: A model system for scientifically managed floodplains

November 1, 2017

Restoration of higher flows through the Everglades is intended to reestablish sheetflow to rebuild a well-functioning ridge and slough landscape that supports a productive and diverse ecosystem. Our objective of the study was to use hydrologic simulations and biophysical analysis to predict restoration outcomes for five major subbasins of the Everglades. Five different scenarios of restoration were examined, and for each we predicted an outcome based on metrics describing the present-day condition of the landscape and additional metrics determined by modeling the hydrologic changes accompanying restoration. Restoration scenarios spanned from a baseline case with average annual flows of about 52% of the predrainage flow to the most aggressive scenario that permits 91% of the predrainage flow. Our predictions indicated that all restoration scenarios could benefit the functionality of the ridge-slough ecosystem. However, the difference between any single restoration scenario and the “no restoration” baseline was far greater than was the difference between any two levels of restoration. Interestingly, our analysis suggested that the most extensive (and highest cost) restoration scenarios are not likely to improve ridge and slough function more than less extensive restoration options. However, the value of more aggressive restoration may lie in factors not considered directly in our analysis. For example, an important reason to implement the more aggressive restoration scenarios could be additional flexibility that permitting greater flow allows for adaptively managing the ecosystem while also serving water needs for southeastern Florida in what could be a drier Everglades in the coming decades.

Publication Year 2017
Title Predicting outcomes of restored Everglades high flow: A model system for scientifically managed floodplains
DOI 10.1111/rec.12479
Authors Jay Choi, Judson Harvey
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Restoration Ecology
Index ID 70193415
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Eastern Branch