Research and Monitoring in Florida Bay
The Science Program for Florida Bay coordinates an interagency effort investigating recent changes in the ecosystem of Florida Bay and its sensitivity to human activities.
The main purpose of this program is to produce data and models that are necessary for understanding Florida Bay as an ecosystem functioning within a larger regional system (south Florida ecosystem) that is significantly influenced by human activities. Fourteen federal and state agencies, including 26 Universities and colleges from 14 states are currently involved in Florida Bay research activities.
The Science Programs coordinated approach to research in Florida Bay is guided by the Interagency Program Management Committee (PMC), a group of representatives from the agencies involved in South Florida Restoration. They are charged with providing policy makers with scientific information and recommendations for management during the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP). The five main areas of research include water circulation, water quality, nutrients, plant communities, historical conditions and animal interactions. Computer models are also being developed by scientists and engineers to predict the effects of proposed restoration actions on Bay wildlife and water quality.
More detailed information about the types of research, data, management and oversight, important documents and information about the Florida Bay Science Conference may be found at the following link: www.aoml.noaa.gov/flbay/.
Five main areas of research
Five questions have been identified by the PMC whose answers are critical for helping managers make good decisions. These questions are the touchstone against which research programs and projects are measured:
- How and at what rates do storms, changing freshwater flows, sea level rise, and local evaporation/precipitation patterns influence circulation and salinity patterns within Florida Bay and outflows from the Bay to adjacent waters?
- What is the relative importance of the advection of exogenous nutrients, internal nutrient cycling including exchange between water column and sedimentary nutrient sources, and nitrogen fixation in determining the nutrient budget of Florida Bay?
- What regulates the onset, persistence and fate of planktonic algal blooms in Florida Bay?
- What are the causes and mechanisms for the observed changes in seagrass and the hardbottom community of Florida Bay? What is the effect of changing salinity, light and nutrient regimes on these communities?
- What is the relationship between environmental change, habitat change and the recruitment, growth, and survivorship of higher trophic level species?
These five questions focus a coordinated research program across local, state, and federal agencies under the leadership of the PMC.