Using Scenario Planning as a Wildlife and Water Management Resource in the Florida Everglades

by Chloe Soltis

Water is one of the most important environmental resources in the Florida Everglades since the area’s landscape primarily consists of freshwater wetlands. In recent years, economic and agricultural development have reshaped and redirected headwaters to flow into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico instead of the Everglades. This lack of water has left the area at risk of salt water intrusion and drought in addition to threatening its native wildlife populations. Catano et al. (2015) decided to create a model that predicts how climate change will affect the area’s different hydrologic factors and impact wildlife populations. Continue reading

The Value of Wetlands in Protecting Southeast Louisiana from Hurricane Storm Surges

by Andrew Walnum

Wetlands are recognized as important habitats not only for their benefits of maintaining biodiversity, water purification, erosion control, and carbon sequestration, but also their ability to reduce the impacts of storm surges. Hurricanes pose a particular threat coastal areas as can be seen during Katrina and other devastating hurricanes. Wetland restoration in areas along the Gulf Coast seems to be a logical way to help reduce the devastating impacts of surges and floods from ocean storms. However, there has never been a full analysis combining the hydrological and economic impacts of increasing wetland areas along the Gulf Coast. The authors of this study used models to look at the effects of increasing wetlands on property damage in Southeast Louisiana, near New Orleans. Their study finds that an increase in 10% vegetation cover per square meter saves $99-$133 in property damage per unit area and only a 1% increase saves $24-$43. Continue reading

Spring Invertebrate Communities in a Restored Wetland

by Andrew Walnum

The goal of every restoration project is to restore degraded ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-disturbed functions. For wetlands, restoring the hydrological function of the area is usually what restoration ecologists aim to achieve, often at a rate which quickly makes changes to the hydrology and chemistry of the landscape. Although ecological restoration is an important growing field, very little is known about the inter-habitat effects of restoration. Freshwater springs regularly form along wetland ecosystems but there have been no studies to find how restoration might affect these habitats. Illmonen et al.(2013) looks at the effects of restoring wetland on these non-target ecosystems by looking at macroinvertebrate diversity. Because these habitats are geographically scattered the authors believed that recovery time for these springs may be slow due to poor dispersing mechanisms for macroinvertebrates, although more cosmopolitan species may take over quickly. Continue reading