Science group reviews Everglades data

OKEECHOBEE — The high and low water extremes of recent years have been hard on the Everglades system which spans from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes to Florida Bay.

Laura Brant of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services reported on system-wide ecological indicators at the Everglades Joint Working Group/Science Coordination Meeting Nov. 28 at the South Florida Water Management District office in West Palm Beach.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

She said 11 ecological indicators are used to evaluate the progress of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. System-wide, none of the indicators have shown improvement in the past two years, she said. The data from periods of drought and record rainfall will help with planning for future Everglades restoration projects, she explained.

“Long-term tracking of these indicators has provided us with information that can and is being used in restoration planning.”

Indicators include:
• Invasive exotic plants,
• Lake Okeechobee nearshore submerged aquatic vegetation,
• Eastern oysters,
• Alligators and crocodiles,
• Fish and macro-invertebrates,
• Periphyton,
• Wading birds (White Ibis and Wood Stork),
• Southern Coastal System Phytoplankton blooms,
• Florida Bay submerged aquatic vegetation;
• Juvenile pink shrimp; and
• Rosette Spoonbills.

Invasive exotic plants and animals continue to present challenges, she added.

There has been a lot of improvement to water quality, she said, but phosphorus continues to be a concern system wide.

Monitoring programs continue to have funding challenges.


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