Hypothesis 1: Scenarios that maximize freshwater inflow to the Everglades will sustain distinctive biophysical features and dynamics of the oligohaline ecotone in the face of climate change.
Approach - Scenario Development: In the first two years of FCE III, we will coordinate meetings of science experts and stakeholders to balance the interplay between tightly- and loosely- linked scenarios, creating common (trans-disciplinary) storylines while allowing full independence to discipline-specific modelers, and formulating bridges to encourage cross-discipline or cross-scale comparisons. These efforts will build upon climate-change scenarios being developed by FCE collaborators in the State University System Climate Change Task Force and Everglades restoration scenarios developed by a partner project, Synthesis of Everglades Research and Ecosystem Services (SERES). We will identify a manageable number of plausible timelines and climatic and water management conditions to drive interactive socio-ecological models. These model domains range from site-specific (points) to spatially extensive models (>10,000 km2) with temporal domains ranging from weeks to decades.
Hypothesis 2: : Scenarios that maximize the sustainability of ecosystem services provided by the marsh-mangrove ecotone will also improve freshwater sustainability in the South Florida Urban Gradient.
Quantitative Modeling: In years 3-6, we will focus on refining our multi-modeling framework to both continue model-data synthesis and extrapolate findings spatio-temporally to explore future scenarios, with the model-development flexibility to accommodate newly identified needs for scenario assessment. We will begin with the South Florida Water Management Model (SFWMM), the primary tool used in water management planning to examine how regional climate changes and tradeoffs in water delivery influence water levels and flows within ENP and the South Florida Urban Gradient. Output will drive the Everglades Landscape Model (ELM) to evaluate consequences tied to hydro-ecological dynamics within the Everglades (focusing on the ecotone), ranging from salinity and nutrient fluxes, to soil accretion, and succession of vegetation communities. We will analyze results of the SFWMM and ELM models but also use them as boundary conditions for FCE ecosystem models, enabling more detailed relative comparisons of the hydrologic, ecological, and social responses to changes in the balance of fresh and marine water supplies. Simple water-budget models and more complex reach- and landscape-scale hydrodynamic models developed by the Water CCT will link field data and model results to better constrain the estimates of groundwater to surface water contributions to FCE, and can feed back to models that examine how land-use zoning influences Everglades hydrology relative to changing regional water resources. A suite of linked hydrologic, biogeochemical, and community models will provide expectations for producer and C processes in the marsh, soil and mangrove dynamics in the ecotone, and seagrass and phytoplankton dynamics in the Florida Bay ecosystem.To understand consequences of contrasting hydrologic regimes to aquatic consumers, we will couple movement models with statistical models that predict consumer densities. Results from these local-scale models can further refine the ELM, with the ELM being subsequently used to extrapolate that improved understanding across the broader spatio-temporal scales of the Everglades.
Approach - ? Synthesis and Integration: Model outcomes will be visualized using GIS-based mapping tools (including video) developed through our partnership with the SERES program and will be used to evaluate the economic consequences of scenario options to ecosystem services, including freshwater supply, flood protection, and fish and wading bird abundances (as they apply to recreational use). The SERES program is conducting the extensive economic analysis necessary to generate comparisons based on monetary metrics. Further, because many of our modeled ecosystem components are already ?ecological indicators? used in regular system-wide assessment, we can employ this methodology carefully developed during FCE II for continuous observational datasets to both evaluate and communicate future outcomes of contrasting scenarios to policy-makers.