Title

Using Theoretical Community Ecology to Assess Restoration in the Everglades

Event Name/Location

North American Benthological Society Annual Meeting: Responding to the Global Water Crisis, Providence, Rhode Island, May 22-26, 2011

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

5-23-2011

Abstract

Meeting Everglades restoration goals will require tradeoffs, such as restoring historical hydrology versus keeping canals as sport fish habitat and reducing phosphorus concentrations in the marsh. A spatiotemporal gradient in water permanence in Everglades National Park during our study period (2003-2008) was largely driven by flow determined by the South Florida Water Management District via canals and water control structures. Such gradients can affect the relative influence of different types of community assembly processes in aquatic ecosystems. Our monitoring data show macroinvertebrate and fish communities respond to this gradient differently. Biochemical markers suggest different resources and foraging ranges for different consumers, some of which may disperse from canals to sites in the marsh along a phosphorus concentration gradient. Variation in dispersal ability and resource preference may explain the complex response exhibited by aquatic consumer communities to variation in water permanence. We conclude with a discussion about the utility of testing ecological theory with monitoring data and how it can be used to better assess the tradeoffs that are inevitable when there are multiple restoration goals.

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