Southeast Environmental Research Center

Miami, FL, United States

Southeast Environmental Research Center

Miami, FL, United States
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News Article | April 27, 2017

Joe Bay is one of Florida Bay's main sources of freshwater. Closing it was key in helping the American crocodile recover from extinction. But the long-untouched Joe Bay, along with nearby Snag Bay, is now open to visitors on kayaks, canoes or paddle boards. The park's first designated catch-and-release area, it also welcomes fishermen in search of snook, tarpon and more. Scientists in FIU's Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC) are studying the effects of the decades-long closure and recreational fishing on Joe Bay's fish and recreational fisheries. "We haven't had anything in South Florida closed off to human contact for this long," said David Stormer, a post-doctoral research associate in SERC. "It's rare outside of an experimental setting to have the elements we have here at our disposal. Being able to evaluate Joe Bay in itself, and how does a fish community respond to being separated from humanity, is a really unique opportunity." Led by Jennifer Rehage, an environmental studies professor in FIU's Department of Earth and Environment, the research team is using a combination of techniques, including net hauls, snorkeling and baited remote underwater video (BRUV) surveys, to examine the size, species and number of fish in Joe Bay and nearby Little Madeira Bay and Long Sound. The three areas have different access regulations, allowing the scientists to evaluate water conditions and the effects of the closure. With eight BRUVs outfitted with GoPro HD cameras already deployed, the scientists have generated more than 320 hours of film, catching common jack, snook, sharks, tarpon, trout and the non-native cichlid on camera. Delving deeper into Joe Bay, the scientists are also surveying local anglers, fishing guides and visitors on their fishing catches and experiences. Miami native Bobby Gibson is one of them. He has been fishing in the Everglades for nearly 25 years. For Gibson, filling out the survey was a way for him to express his love for the Everglades and the need for science to inform management of an invaluable natural resource. "It's exciting to be at the forefront of a management strategy that hasn't been tried before in the Everglades. We want to contribute information as to whether it's working well or not," Rehage said. "I hope this project gets the word out on the value of citizen science. If everyone who visits the area reports information on their catches and experiences, we'll have invaluable data to help us accomplish that." Visitors to Joe Bay can fill out paper surveys at Trout Creek or Mooring Pilings, take the survey online, or download the Joe Bay Angler Survey app on their Android or iPhone. The study is funded by the Everglades National Park and is expected to take three years to complete. It is being conducted with researchers from the Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Audubon Florida. The research project was recently profiled by Florida Sportsman and Hatch.

Kara E.L.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Hanson P.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Hamilton D.,University of Waikato | Hipsey M.R.,University of Western Australia | And 14 more authors.
Environmental Modelling and Software | Year: 2012

We evaluated the predictive ability of a one-dimensional coupled hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model across multiple temporal scales using wavelet analysis and traditional goodness-of-fit metrics. High-frequency in situ automated sensor data and long-term manual observational data from Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, USA, were used to parameterize, calibrate, and evaluate model predictions. We focused specifically on short-term predictions of temperature, dissolved oxygen, and phytoplankton biomass over one season. Traditional goodness-of-fit metrics indicated more accurate prediction of physics than chemical or biological variables in the time domain. This was confirmed by wavelet analysis in both the time and frequency domains. For temperature, predicted and observed global wavelet spectra were closely related, while observed dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll fluorescence spectral characteristics were not reproduced by the model for key time scales, indicating that processes not modeled may be important drivers of the observed signal. Although the magnitude and timing of physical and biological changes were simulated adequately at the seasonal time scale through calibration, time scale-specific dynamics, for example short-term cycles, were difficult to reproduce, and were relatively insensitive to the effects of varying parameters. The use of wavelet analysis is novel to aquatic ecosystem modeling, is complementary to traditional goodness-of-fit metrics, and allows for assessment of variability at specific temporal scales. In this way, the effect of processes operating at distinct temporal scales can be isolated and better understood, both in situ and in silico. Wavelet transforms are particularly well suited for assessment of temporal and spatial heterogeneity when coupled to high-frequency data from automated in situ or remote sensing platforms. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Lagomasino D.,Southeast Environmental Research Center | Lagomasino D.,Florida International University | Corbett D.R.,East Carolina University | Corbett D.R.,Institute for Coastal Science and Policy | And 2 more authors.
Estuaries and Coasts | Year: 2013

Marsh sediment accumulation is predominately a combination of in situ organic accumulation and mineral sediment input during inundation. Within the Pamlico River Estuary (PRE), marsh inundation is dependent upon event (e.g., storms) and seasonal wind patterns due to minimal astronomical tides (<10 cm). A better understanding of the processes controlling sediment deposition and, ultimately, marsh accretion is needed to forecast marsh sustainability with changing land usage, climate, and sea level rise. This study examines marsh topography, inundation depth, duration of inundation, and wind velocity to identify relationships between short-term deposition (tile-based) and long-term accumulation (210Pb and 137Cs) recorded within and adjacent to the PRE. The results of this study indicate (1) similar sedimentation patterns between the interior marsh and shore-side marsh at different sites regardless of elevation, (2) increased sedimentation (one to two orders of magnitude, 0.04-4.54 g m-2 day-1) within the interior marsh when the water levels exceeded the adjacent topography (e.g., storm berm), and (3) that short-term sea level changes can have direct effects on sediment delivery to interior marshes in wind-driven estuarine systems. © 2013 Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation.

Lagomasino D.,Florida International University | Lagomasino D.,Southeast Environmental Research Center | Price R.M.,Florida International University | Price R.M.,Southeast Environmental Research Center | And 4 more authors.
Remote Sensing of Environment | Year: 2014

Coastal mangrove ecosystems are under duress worldwide because of urban development, sea-level rise, and climate change, processes that are capable of changing the salinity and nutrient concentration of the water utilized by the mangroves. This study correlates long-term water chemistry in mangrove environments, located in Everglades National Park, with mangrove spectral reflectance measurements made at both the leaf and canopy scales. Spectral reflectance measurements were collected using a handheld spectrometer for leaf-level measurements and Landsat 5TM data for regional coverage. Leaf-level reflectance data were collected from three mangrove species (i.e., red, black and white mangroves) across two regions; a tall mangrove (~18m) and dwarf mangrove (1-2m) region. The reflectance data were then used to calculate a wide variety of biophysical reflectance indices (e.g., NDVI, EVI, SAVI) to determine signs of stress. Discrete, quarterly water samples from the surface water, groundwater, and pore water (20 and 85cm depths) and daily autonomous surface water samples were collected at each site and analyzed for major anions (Cl- and SO42-), cations (Na+, K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP). Mangrove sites that exhibited the highest salinity and ionic concentrations in the surface and subsurface water also had the lowest near-infrared reflectance at both the leaf and satellite levels. Seasonal reflectance responses were measured in the near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths at both the leaf and canopy scales and were strongly correlated with nutrient and ionic concentrations in the surface and subsurface water, even though there was no significant separability between the three mangrove species. Study sites that experienced the greatest variability in surface and subsurface water ionic concentrations also exhibited the greatest fluctuations in NIR spectral reflectance. Landsat 5TM images were able to detect tall and dwarf mangroves by the differences in spectral indices (e.g., NDVI, NDWI, and EVI) because of the variability in the background conditions amongst the environments. In addition, Landsat 5TM images spanning 16years (1993-2009) were successfully used to estimate the seasonal variability in ionic concentrations in the surface water across the Florida Coastal mangrove ecotone. This study has shown that water chemistry can be estimated indirectly by measuring the change in spectral response at the leaf- or satellite-scale. Furthermore, the results of this research may be extrapolated to similar coastal mangrove systems throughout the Caribbean and world-wide wherever red, black, and white mangroves occur. © 2014.

Mao Y.,Henan Polytechnic University | Mao Y.,Southeast Environmental Research Center | Li Y.,Southeast Environmental Research Center | Li Y.,Florida International University | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2013

The role of macrophytes in mercury (Hg) cycling in the Florida Everglades ecosystem has not been fully understood. In this study, a stable isotope ( 199Hg2+) addition technique was used to trace the methylation, uptake, and translocation of Hg by sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense) and quantitatively evaluate the contribution of atmospheric and soil Hg to Hg in sawgrass leaves and below-ground biomass. The results showed that spiked 199Hg2+ could be rapidly methylated to monomethylmercury (Me199Hg) in the soil of the sawgrass pots. Only small portions of total Hg (THg) and monomethylmercury (MeHg) in the soil could be taken up by sawgrass, indicated by the ratios of T199Hg and Me199Hg (tracer) concentrations in the sawgrass below-ground biomass (BGBM) over that in the soil (6.50 ± 1.9% and 12.8 ± 3.6% for THg and MeHg, respectively). Concentrations of T199Hg (tracer) and Me 199Hg (tracer) in sawgrass leaves only accounted for 5.50 ± 2.8% and 15.6 ± 4.0%, respectively, of that in the BGBM, implying that the fractions of mercury species transported upward by sawgrass were also small. Statistical analysis (t test) showed that sawgrass preferred MeHg over THg in both uptake and upward translocation. The majority (>90%) of THg in sawgrass leaves were estimated to be obtained from atmospheric Hg, rather than from soil, suggesting that assimilation of atmospheric Hg could increase the overall Hg stock in the Florida Everglades ecosystem. The finding about foliar uptake of Hg is especially important for a better understanding of mercury cycling in the Everglades, given the large amount of sawgrass biomass in this ecosystem. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

Diamond J.M.,Florida International University | Diamond J.M.,Southeast Environmental Research Center | Heinen J.T.,Florida International University
Urban Forestry and Urban Greening | Year: 2016

We consider Miami-Dade County's Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) network of preserves as a means to conserve rare plant species in urban and suburban forest fragments. In this rapidly urbanizing landscape, upland forests are at particularly high risk of development. We examined the number of rare plant species present in preserves based on the site area, ecosystem type and management practices using the EEL database maintained by the county and a database of plant species inventories collected by the Institute for Regional Conservation. About 99% of the area of the EEL system is located in southern Miami-Dade. Pine rockland forests are primarily in the outer suburbs of the county where fire can be used most effectively for management. Hardwood hammock forests are distributed throughout the county including within the urban core. All 56 EEL forested sites under study contained at least one rare plant species. Small sites often contained high numbers of rare species per unit area, but presumably at lower population sizes. The type of upland forest was not related to the mean richness of rare or state-listed plant species. Public access was not related to the mean richness of rare plants, but was negatively associated with the richness of state-listed plant species. © 2016 Elsevier GmbH

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