Monitoring of aquatic fauna and periphyton under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
Robertson, Tish*,1, Trexler, Joel*,1, Gaiser, Evelyn1, Lorenz, Jerome2, Philippi, Tom1, 1 Southeastern Research Center, Florida International University, Miami, Fl2 National Audubon Society, Tavernier, Fl
ABSTRACT- The Florida Everglades is among the largest freshwater wetland landscapes in the world. Situated in south Florida, this ecosystem is threatened by a suite of anthropogenic stressors, including over-drainage, phosphorus enrichment, and non-native wildlife. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is a framework created by federal and state resource specialists designed to restore, protect, and preserve the water resources of the Florida Everglades and surrounding areas. The Monitoring and Assessment Plan of CERP has established a number of biotic performance measures to assess restoration of food-web function under this long-term restoration program. The community structure (abundance, biomass, and species composition) of periphyton and fishes, and the spatial distribution of the latter in relation to hydrology, are among the key performance measures targeted for monitoring. We are using a multistage, spatially balanced sampling design to document landscape-scale patterns of these performance measures. We also conduct more intensive sampling at sentinel sites, sampled twice during the dry season, to gather seasonal information aiding in the interpretation of yearly landscape-level data. A 1-m2 throw trap is used to collect periphyton, marsh fishes, and benthic macroinvertebrates such as crayfish and dragonflies, while mangrove fishes are sampled using a 9-m2 drop net. Our sampling design will be used as a guide for on-going CERP activities, as data resulting from restoration efforts are compiled and interpreted against results from simulation models or data collected from reference sites.
Key words: Florida Everglades, periphyton, long-term monitoring, fish sampling
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