Audubon Florida has released its semi-annual infographic describing water, salinity, fish, submerged aquatic vegetation, and Roseate Spoonbill impacts in South Florida. The State of the Slough relies on data collected by the Everglades Science Center team from July through October of 2020.
At the southern end of Everglades National Park, a series of sloughs convey freshwater to the Florida Bay estuary. Audubon researchers track these freshwater deliveries (or lack thereof) and their impacts on the ecology of Taylor Slough and the Bay. This data provides critical feedback to Everglades restoration — measuring whether we are getting it right and prescribing how water management could improve.
“Although the aquatic vegetation and fish communities was not at an optimum during the first part of the hydrological year, the hydrology in Taylor Slough is off to a very good start,” explains Alexander Blochel, Senior Biologist at the Everglades Science Center.
We are hopeful for a drawdown in water levels that reflects the hydrological events in the past. If a drawdown occurs, it will greatly benefit nesting birds foraging for their young in the Florida Bay area.”
Data from the Everglades Science Center showcases how sea level rise impacts salinity levels in Taylor Slough, and reduces the success of Roseate Spoonbill nesting.
“We will have to see if freshwater that is currently in the Everglades is sufficient enough to create a brackish environment for the species that lives there, while still allowing the low water levels that benefits the birds. Only time will tell,” Blochel continues.
Florida Bay does not receive enough freshwater through sheetflow. When combined with the absence of rainfall, the bay becomes hypersaline and crashes. The natural system used to receive four times more freshwater from the Everglades ecosystem. Audubon Florida’s team works tirelessly to accelerate Everglades restoration projects that will bring freshwater south to rehydrate Florida Bay.
The State of the Slough is available as a PDF here.