Scientists at the Everglades Science Center are studying the flow of freshwater into Florida Bay and the impact the diversion of water has had throughout the Everglades ecosystem. Their studies include corals, seagrasses, mangroves, game fishes, crocodiles, wading birds, White-crowned Pigeons and many ecosystem-level studies. Their experiments link changes in freshwater flow to decreased plant production and subsequent loss of small fishes. These are vital parts of the ecosystem, making up the food base for many higher predators such as game fishes, crocodilians, wading birds and birds of prey.
Wading birds in the Everglades. Photo: Robbyn Spratt/Audubon Photography Awards.
Everglades Science Center
Conditions in the everglades are difficult (heat, storms, biting insects, and crocodiles) and thousands of miles must be covered to collect accurate data. Many of the locations are difficult to reach. It is challenging to find qualified staff to live and work in the Florida Keys to monitor and study such an expansive area.
A new type of monitoring station was set up to better understand the Everglades ecosystem. This new station is small and compact, about five times smaller than the Center’s current hydrostations. The necessary equipment fits neatly into a waterproof briefcase, making it easier and safer to transport to hard-to-reach locations, such as interior ponds of some Florida Bay islands. The station uses a Eureka Waterprobe that consistently measures salinity, depth, and temperature, and collects hourly recordings.
This newly configured monitoring station has made gathering important data more efficient and timely so scientists can have a better understanding of conditions in the Florida Bay keys. This area had been largely ignored scientifically and may become increasingly important ecologically as climate change continues to alter the Everglades landscape.
Further Reading :
Audubon's Everglades Science Center