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Tavernier, FL, United States

Zokan M.,University of Georgia | Ellis G.,University of South Florida | Clem S.E.,Audubon Florida | Lorenz J.,Everglades Science Center | Loftus W.F.,Aquatic Research and Communication LLC
Southeastern Naturalist

The Big Cypress Swamp (BCS) is a large freshwater wetland system and drainage basin (640,000 ha) in southwest Florida and an important component of the Greater Everglades ecosystem. Despite its size and relationship to the Ever glades, the fish fauna of BCS has received little study. Documentation of its fish fauna is important to better understand this dynamic natural system and to monitor changes to the fish community, including the spread of non-indigenous species. To that end, we surveyed the ichthyofauna of freshwater habitats in Big Cypress National Preserve (BCNP), the largest and most intact wetland area (295,000 ha) remaining in BCS. Between October 2002 and May 2004, we recorded 63 fish species from freshwater habitats in BCNP, including 9 non-indigenous species. Species richness was greatest in permanent freshwater habitats and lowest in shallow temporary wetlands and seasonally fresh coastal marshes. The most speciose families were the native Centrarchidae (8 spp.) and the non-native Cichlidae (6 spp.), whereas the most abundant and widely distributed species were members of Cyprinodontidae, Fundulidae, and Poecilidae. Similar to other coastal drainages of southern Florida, BCNP has a relatively high occurrence of euryhaline species (28 spp.). © 2015, BioOne. All rights reserved. Source

Baldwin J.D.,Florida Atlantic University | Bass O.L.,South Florida Natural Resources Center | Browder J.A.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Cook M.I.,South Florida Water Management District | And 10 more authors.
Ecological Indicators

The coastal marine environment is currently under threat from many anthropogenic pressures that were identified by the MARES project. Indicators of ecosystem health are needed so that targets can be set to guide protection and restoration efforts. Species of birds that are dependent on coastal habitats are ubiquitous along the coasts of southern Florida. Generally referred to as waterbirds, these species, although not all taxonomically related, share a common dependency on the marine environment for food, nesting habitat, or both. A suite of waterbirds was selected based on their perceived sensitivity to pressures in multiple coastal habitat types. The list of species was refined on the basis of a review of life history for characteristics that might make the species particularly vulnerable. Each selected species was then evaluated for sensitivity to the identified pressures using a hierarchical assessment that took into account the sensitivity, severity, and the temporal and spatial scales of the indicator to the given pressures. The selected suite of indicators was collectively sensitive to all the pressures except one. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Baldwin J.D.,Florida Atlantic University | Bass O.L.,South Florida Natural Resources Center | Browder J.A.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Cook M.I.,South Florida Water Management District | And 10 more authors.
Ecological Indicators

In our companion manuscript we identified 11 waterbirds as indicators of various pressures on the coastal marine ecosystems of southern Florida. Here, we identify the habitats on which these species depend and the ecological linkages that make them representative of those habitats. Through the use of conceptual ecological models (CEMs), we develop tools that can be used by managers/decision makers to evaluate the health of the various habitats in order to rectify myriad problems that are occurring or will possibly occur in the future such that the valuable ecosystem services provided by these habitats can be maximized. We also demonstrate the practical use of these tools by documenting data availability, benchmarks, and scientific needs for each species. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Rehage J.S.,Florida International University | Blanchard J.R.,Florida International University | Boucek R.E.,Florida International University | Lorenz J.J.,Everglades Science Center | Robinson M.,Everglades Science Center

Extreme climate events can interact synergistically with invasions to dramatically alter ecosystem structure, function, and services. Yet, the effects of extreme climate events on species invasions remain unresolved. Extreme climate events may increase resources and decrease biotic resistance by causing physiological stress and/or mortality of native taxa, resulting in invasion opportunities for nonnative species. Alternatively, extreme climate events may regulate nonnative populations, preventing them from achieving dominance. We examined whether a sequence of three cold spells had a negative or positive effect on fish invasions in the coastal Everglades. We compared resistance (initial effects) and resilience (rate of recovery) to the cold spells between native fishes and the dominant nonnative invader, the Mayan cichlid, across eight populations expanding two mangroves drainages in the southern Everglades. We tracked native fish and nonnative Mayan cichlid populations for 10 yr including 3 yr pre-and 4 yr post-cold spells. In both drainages, native fishes were more resistant to the cold spells than the nonnative species. While native fishes experienced declines at only one site, nonnative Mayan numbers were reduced by 90-100% across six sites where they were abundant pre-disturbances. Four years after the last cold spell, we saw limited resilience in the affected nonnative populations. Only one of the six affected sites fully recovered, whereas the other five sites showed no recovery in Mayan cichlid numbers. The recovered site was closest to a canal, known to act as thermal refuges for nonnative fishes. In summary, cold spells can reduce nonnative abundances, but whether cold spells can effectively knock back invasions (and range expansions) by tropical/subtropical nonnative species will depend on how the frequency and severity of cold spells are affected by climate change. We propose that these mortality-causing extreme events could provide rare management opportunities late in an invasion. © 2016 Rehage et al. Source

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