Open-File Report 96-0732

Preliminary Report on the Distribution of Modern Fauna and Flora at Selected Sites in North-central and North-eastern Florida Bay

By G.L. Brewster-Wingard, S.E. Ishman, L.E. Edwards, and D.A. Willard

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The passage of the Everglades Forever Act in 1994 and the mandate that the Everglades ecosystem be restored to its "natural state" has focused scientific attention on the southern Florida ecosystem. An essential part of the restoration is to determine the history of the ecosystem prior to significant human alteration and to separate natural variability in the ecosystem from human-induced change. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), among others, is conducting research to provide information on the distribution of fauna and flora throughout the Everglades ecosystem over the last 150-200 years. This report is produced by the Ecosystem History of South Florida component of the U.S. Geological Surveyıs Ecosystem Program, and is one of a series of USGS Open-File Reports on the distribution of biogenic components in sediments sampled from the south Florida region.

Florida Bay is an integral part of the Everglades ecosystem. It constitutes 850 square miles of water within Everglades National Park and has been the subject of much concern in recent decades. Sea-grass die-offs, algal blooms, declining numbers of fish, shellfish, and sponges have been issues of public concern (Lodge, 1994, p. 182-185). The primary question is to what degree do these changes represent natural variation within the ecosystem versus human-induced change. A series of sediment cores from Florida Bay is being examined (Wingard et al., 1995; Ishman et al., 1996) to determine the changes that have occurred over the last 150-200 years. The fauna and flora present in these cores are used to interpret the biological, physical, and chemical parameters of the environment at different intervals in the past. In order to interpret the significance of the down-core fauna and flora more accurately, it is important to understand the distribution, salinity, and substrate preferences and tolerances of the modern fauna and flora. Thus, we have established 19 monitoring sites in Florida Bay that are sampled twice per year in February and July, to determine seasonality. This report includes data from 13 sites sampled in 1995 located in the north-central and northeastern portions of Florida Bay.

This report is preliminary and has not been reviewed for conformity with U.S. Geological Survey editorial standards or with the North American Stratigraphic Code. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Last Updated 05.17.99