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Project Work Plan

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)

Fiscal Year 2007 Study Work Plan

Study Title: Determining Target Salinity Values for South Florida's Estuaries: The Combined Effects of Climate, Sea Level, and Water Management Practices
Study Start Date: 10/1/06 Study End Date: 9/30/2010
Web Sites: http://sofia.usgs.gov/exchange/flaecohist/, http://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/eh_swcsrs/index.html
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Ten Thousand Islands NWR. Monroe, Collier, and Lee Counties, FL.
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES) Program
Other Complementary Funding Source(s):
None at this time
Funding History: FY07
Principal Investigator(s): G. Lynn Wingard
Study Personnel:
T. Cronin, C. Holmes, M. Marot, J. Murray, W.B. Schill - USGS. Contract personnel: R. Ortiz, C. Budet, K. Waylen, J. Hudley and potentially a Pennsylvania State University Grad Student.
Supporting Organizations:
South Florida Water Management District; Everglades National Park; Biscayne National Park, Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Associated / Linked Studies:
Historical Changes in Salinity, Water Quality and Vegetation in Biscayne Bay (ended in FY06); Ecosystem History of the Southwest Coast-Shark River Slough Ouflow Area, Synthesis of South Florida Ecosystem History Research.

Overview & Objective(s):
This task is specifically aimed at addressing needs identified by the Southern Estuaries Module Subteam of the Regional Evaluation Team (RET) of RECOVER. The Southern Estuaries Subteam is tasked with establishing performance measures and salinity targets for the estuaries and initially the intent was to use the Natural Systems Model (NSM) as the primary basis for the target values. In spring 2005, however, the subteam ran simulations using the NSM for the Initial CERP Update (ICU) that returned salinity values far in excess of any anticipated. They therefore determined that the NSM was not a reliable indicator of near shore salinity patterns, and they have indicated a desire to rely on paleosalinity data to establish targets and performance measures.

The primary objective of this project will be to provide information to CERP managers that can be used to establish target salinity values and performance measures for the estuaries and coastal ecosystems. The information provided will consider the contribution of climate, sea level rise and anthropogenic alteration on salinity values in the estuaries and coastal systems of south Florida. This work will build upon previous work in Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay, and information derived from the Synthesis (Task 6) of these data. There are four areas of focus for this project. 1) Refine our existing modern analog data set by completing analyses of modern samples collected between 1996 and 2004 and applying these improved analog data to core data compiled in the Synthesis Task (Task 6). 2) Collect new cores (if necessary) within the southern estuaries to fill in information gaps identified by the land management agencies (Everglades National Park (ENP) and Biscayne National Park (BNP)), and by the Southern Estuaries Subteam of the Regional Evaluation Team (RET) of RECOVER. 3) Select a few sites in the transition zones to collect cores in a transect moving perpendicular to shore in order to analyze the rate of sea level rise in the region. 4) Work with our collaborators to plug all of the combined paleoecology data into linear regression models that can hindcast salinity for different parts of the system. Ultimately these efforts will lead to the ability to forecast the data and develop targets for the CERP 2050 Plan that take natural change into consideration.

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified: (Page numbers below refer to DOI Science Plan.)

The importance and application of ecosystem history research to restoration goals has been identified in a number of documents. The DOI Science Plan lists as one of the three primary restoration activities the need to "ensure that hydrologic performance targets accurately reflect the natural predrainage hydrology and ecology" (DOI Science Plan, p. 14). The USGS Science Plan for south Florida (2003 draft, msp. 7) identifies five primary science goals, the second of which is to "determine the historical ecological setting of the Everglades." The primary goal of this project, and related previous ecosystem history projects, is to determine the predrainage hydrology and ecology of critical regions within the estuaries and coastal ecosystems of south Florida, identified by the Southern Estuaries Subteam and other client groups, which have been tasked with setting performance measures and targets for these coastal zones.

This project specifically addresses the needs identified by the Southern Estuaries Module Subteam of the Regional Evaluation Team (RET) of RECOVER. The Southern Estuaries Subteam is tasked with establishing performance measures and salinity targets for the estuaries and initially the intent was to use the Natural Systems Model (NSM) as the primary basis for the target values. In spring 2005, however, the subteam ran simulations using the NSM for the Initial CERP Update (ICU) that returned salinity values far in excess of any anticipated. They therefore determined that the NSM was not a reliable indicator of near shore salinity patterns, and they have indicated a desire to rely on paleosalinity data to establish targets and performance measures. Coverage of cores in southern Biscayne Bay and northern Florida Bay is limited, however, with each basin having characteristic patterns. We therefore propose to build upon the earlier projects and fill in information gaps identified by the Southern Estuaries Subteam for Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, and potentially parts of the southwest coastal area.

While the primary goal of this project is to provide data to assist in the establishment of sustainable salinity targets and performance measures, this project also addresses a number of other restoration needs identified in the RFP. The data we gather can be used by the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project to assist in developing minimum flows and levels. Our data on the biota present over time and their changes in response to changing water conditions can be used to address questions about natural habitats including the following: 1) the impact of existing and proposed freshwater flows on coastal communities; 2) responses of native organisms to the introduction of exotic species. We will examine the role of climate and sea level rise on changing salinity patterns in the coastal communities, how these natural changes have been over-printed by anthropogenic change, and how sea level and climate should be factored into restoration targets.

A number of specific "major unanswered questions" asked in the DOI Science Plan can be answered by this research. These include the following:

Florida Bay and Florida Keys Feasibility Study

1) "What are the links between freshwater inflows to Florida Bay and the ecology of the bay?" (DOI Science Plan, p. 65)

2) "What is the ecological response to hydrologic change?" (DOI Science Plan, p. 66).

Additional Water for Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay Feasibility Study

3) "What were the physical and ecological conditions in Shark River and Taylor Sloughs and Biscayne Bay prior to drainage and modification . . ." (DOI Science Plan, p. 63),

4) "What are the hydrologic targets needed to mimic historic flows . . . ? (DOI Science Plan, p. 63).

Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project

5) "How much freshwater, and in what seasonal patterns, was delivered historically to Biscayne Bay?" (DOI Plan, p. 63),

6) "What are the links between hydrology and ecology in the Biscayne Bay coastal wetlands?" (DOI Science Plan, p. 64), and

7) "What are the key indicators of natural ecological response in Biscayne Bay coastal wetlands? (DOI Science Plan, p. 66)

8) "What are the baseline conditions of the indicators?" (DOI Science Plan, p. 66).

This study supports these CERP projects by 1) conducting research to understand the predrainage hydrology, including the amount, timing and seasonality of freshwater delivered to the estuaries historically; 2) examining the historical environmental conditions, including the linkage between hydrology (water quality and quantity), ecology, and habitats; 3) providing modelers with data on historic conditions in order to set targets and performance measures that reflect natural hydrologic patterns; and 4) providing long-term historical data on trends and cycles within the biological component of the ecosystem that can be forecasted to predict the effects of implementation of hydrologic restoration on the ecology of coastal communities.

Status: New project in FY07

Recent Products: New project in FY07

Planned Products:
Collaborative journal articles/reports with the modelers showing the application of paleoecologic data to setting salinity targets

A glossy publication (USGS Circular and/or fact sheet) summarizing the history of south Florida's estuaries in a format that would appeal to the general public and to land managers

WORK PLAN

Title of Task 1: Development of Salinity Targets for CERP through application of Paleoecologic Data
Task Funding: USGS Priority Ecosystems Science
Task Leaders: G.L. Wingard
Phone:
GLW: 703-648-5352
FAX:
703-648-6953
Task Status (proposed or active):
Active
Task priority: High
Budget and Time Frame for Task 1: FY07-FY2010; FY07
Task Personnel:
G.L. Wingard, J.B. Murray, R. Ortiz, C. Budet, C.W. Holmes, M. Marot, K. Waylen, J. Hudley

Task Summary and Objectives:
The purpose of this task is to compile and consolidate all existing information on paleosalinity and provide this information to the Southern Estuaries Module Subteam of the Regional Evaluation Team (RET) of RECOVER to assist them in developing interim salinity targets for restoration. Working with the sub-team, we will identify any existing data gaps that need to be filled. There are three specific objectives for this task. 1) Refine our existing modern analog data set by completing analyses of modern samples collected between 1996 and 2004 and applying these improved analog data to core data compiled in the Synthesis Project. 2) Collect new cores (if necessary) within the southern estuaries to fill in information gaps identified by the land management agencies (Everglades National Park (ENP) and Biscayne National Park (BNP)), and by the Southern Estuaries Module Subteam of the Regional Evaluation Team (RET) of RECOVER. 3) Work with our collaborators to plug all of the combined paleoecology data into linear regression models that can hindcast salinity for different parts of the system. Ultimately we hope to forecast these data in combination with the results from task 2, to give a picture of realistic CERP 2050 salinity targets.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
In FY07, the first step will be to identify the priorities of the client agencies and to determine from the modelers which data would be the most beneficial to their progress. These meetings will determine the workplan for the remainder of the year, but we will most likely take a two-fold approach. First, we will begin a concentrated effort to improve our modern analogue data (developed in previous projects) by completing analyses of modern samples. Second, we will identify any information gaps where new cores are required, conduct reconnaissance in the field to identify possible sites of new cores, and begin the process of obtaining permission from Everglades National Park to core. Once we receive permission to core, and once the clients have provided us with priorities, we will begin to collect and analyze cores.

Specific Task Product(s):
Reports to the SET on a regular basis, providing updates of information compiled. Summary reports and journal articles. Presentations at professional meetings

Title of Task 2: Assessment of sea level rise in South Florida's estuaries
Task Funding:
USGS Priority Ecosystems Science
Task Leaders: T.M. Cronin
Phone: 703-648-6363
FAX: 703-648-6953
Task Status (proposed or active): Active
Task priority: Medium
Budget and Time Frame for Task 2: FY07-FY2010; FY07

Task Personnel: T. Cronin, L. Wingard, J. Murray, R. Ortiz, C. Budet, M. Marot, J. Hudley and a Pennsylvania State University Grad Student

Task Summary and Objectives:
The purpose of this task is to evaluate the role of sea level in determining salinity within south Florida's estuaries. Changes in sea level have dramatically changed south Florida's coastline over the last few millennia and will potentially have dramatic affects during the implementation of CERP, yet few modelers consider this variable. We will examine the historic changes in sea level, and using multiple data sets, will assess the projected rate of change. This information will be combined with the development of the salinity models in task 2, to determine the effect of sea level rise on salinity and determine how these data can be factored into salinity targets for CERP.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
In FY07 we will select a few sites in the transition zones to collect cores in a transect moving perpendicular to shore in order to analyze the rate of sea level rise in the region. Ideally this work will overlap with areas of information gaps identified in task 1. Also, existing data sets on sea level change will be gathered and compiled.

Specific Task Product(s):
Reports to the SET on a regular basis, providing updates of information compiled. Summary reports and journal articles. Presentations at professional meetings



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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:09 PM(KP)