Crocodiles as an indicator of Everglades Restoration Success

Crocodiles as an indicator of Everglades Restoration Success

Categories: Blog, Everglades Restoration, Featured Staff, Foundation Science, Uncategorized

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On May 27, our Wetland Ecologist Dr. Stephen Davis presented a paper at the 23rd Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG) in Lake Charles, LA. The annual CSG meeting is in association with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and sponsored by several zoos and key crocodilian conservation organizations such as Lacoste USA, who invited Dr. Davis to present.

Dr. Davis’ paper was titled “Everglades Restoration: Projecting benefits for the American crocodile” and focused on the Everglades Foundation’s effort to begin developing scenarios of Everglades restoration end-points. The American crocodile, like the Roseate spoonbill, is a key ecological indicator of freshwater inflow conditions through the ecosystem and into Florida Bay and other near-shore areas around the Everglades. Along with other ecological indicators, these keystone species are considered by state and federal agencies as a means to evaluate the benefits of proposed restoration scenarios.

Over the next three years, the Everglades Foundation will be receiving support from Lacoste to continue this critical work to develop and refine a restoration plan that benefits the many imperiled species that inhabit the Everglades, including the American crocodile. Implementation of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) will be the first significant step towards that end. It will accomplish this by providing new storage and treatment infrastructure to move water from Lake Okeechobee to the south, thus minimizing harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River estuaries.

“Our end-point planning will draw from what is left of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan in order to provide maximum benefits to the northern estuaries as well as the Central Everglades, Everglades National Park, and Florida Bay”, said Davis. End-point scenarios considered by the Foundation will evaluate the benefits of different water storage and treatment and combinations as well as the requisite decompartmentalization and seepage control necessary to benefit the ecosystem while meeting the water supply and flood control needs of the developed areas. “We’re not like other states,” added Davis, “we currently have plenty of rainfall and water in south Florida. We now need a plan that will help us to use it more wisely. With support from Lacoste USA, we are in a better position to take on this important task.”