Research in Florida Bay is carried out under the aegis of many academic and governmental institutions. The Florida Bay and Adjacent Marine Systems Science Program (http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/flbay/) is a collaborative effort of federal, state, and local agencies that conduct and sponsor closely complementary research, monitoring, and modeling projects on the Bay ecosystem. The program also provides a valuable mechanism for meetings of research teams, and it sponsors topical workshops and the important Florida Bay and Adjacent Marine Systems Science Conferences, the most recent of which (April 2001) provided the impetus for this report.
A Program Management Committee (PMC), composed of representatives of 11 state and federal agencies, guides the program. The PMC also provides for independent expert review through the Florida Bay Science Oversight Panel, as defined in the 1994 interagency science plan (Armentano et al., 1994). That plan defined the Panel’s role to include both technical and management review of program development, quality of research, modeling, and monitoring. Ad hoc advisory panels of experts in specialized subject areas also are formed from time to time. Reports of the Science Oversight Panel, along with many other reports on Florida Bay, may be found at http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/ocd/sferpm/oid.html.
Many academic institutions are involved in Bay research, most of which is funded by the PMC agencies. Some now also collaborate through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (FCE LTER) program, which began in 2000. Research associated with the FCE LTER focuses on the coastal Everglades to investigate how nutrient availability and cycling interacts with the hydrologic regime to potentially control ecosystem structure and function (http://fcelter.fiu.edu/).
This report evaluates scientific components of the Florida Bay studies and restoration activities that potentially affect the success of the overall CERP. It deals with scientific aspects of Florida Bay that feed back to the Everglades components of the CERP and are integral to the success of the overall plan. In particular, it focuses on the potential long-term effects of Everglades restoration on the nature of the Bay. The report reflects discussions and reviews of poster presentations and abstracts from the April 2001 Florida Bay Science Conference and a review of relevant peer-reviewed literature.
Chapter 2 of this report describes the potential effects of the CERP on Florida Bay, specifically addressing the question: will increased flows of water deemed necessary to restore terrestrial and wetland habitats in the Everglades contribute to the restoration and enhancement of Florida Bay or will they have detrimental effects on the Bay ecosystem? Chapter 3 elaborates on the kinds of research that will be required to shed light on this question. Chapter 4 summarizes the committee’s conclusions and recommendations.