Grant for Everglades research renewed

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted FIU a $5.88 million grant renewal for the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.

With the grant renewal, the program will conduct research to better understand how changes in climate and resource management interact to determine fresh and marine water supply. This will be done by exploring how water management decisions are influenced by the impacts of climate change on freshwater distribution; understanding how the balance of fresh water and marine water supplies regulate carbon dioxide removal by coastal forests; examining long-term data to determine how past land- and water-use changes have affected the Everglades and influenced freshwater delivery decisions; using modeling tools to predict future socio-ecological scenarios.

“Our goal is to understand long-term ecosystem transformations,” said Evelyn Gaiser, lead principal investigator of FCE LTER and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. “To be granted six more years of funding is thrilling. It’s a great feeling knowing we’ve been positively evaluated by people we respect in our field.”

The FCE LTER program is dedicated to long-term studies of how freshwater availability interacts with climate change and human activity to affect the Everglades ecosystem structure and its processes. It is operated by the Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC) in the College of Arts & Sciences. The program is an interdisciplinary collaboration of more than 160 researchers, students and staff from diverse fields in other universities and government agencies.

Since its creation in 2000, FCE LTER researchers have produced 425 publications, as well as key findings that have influenced science and policy decisions locally and nationally.

“It’s critical to integrate the science of ecology with the science of decision- and policy-making in order to create positive changes in our communities,” Gaiser said.

FCE LTER is led by principal investigator Gaiser and co-principal investigators Mike Heithaus, executive director of the School of Environment, Arts and Society; Rudolf Jaffe, George Barley Professor of Environmental Chemistry; Laura Ogden, professor of anthropology; Rene Price, professor in the Department of Earth and Environment.

By Evelyn S. Perez