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Science synthesis for management as a way to advance ecosystem restoration: evaluation of restoration scenarios for the Florida Everglades

Wetzel, Paul R., Davis, Stephen E., III, van Lent, Thomas, Davis, Steven M., Henriquez, Hiram
Restoration ecology 2017 v.25 Suppl S1 pp. S4
capital, decision making, ecological restoration, ecosystem services, ecosystems, fish, information exchange, landscapes, livelihood, overland flow, soil, stakeholders, surface storage, water storage, wetlands, Florida
Restoration of large ecosystems, like the Florida Everglades, is complex because they cover large areas that span many jurisdictional boundaries and encompass a range of stakeholders whose survival and livelihood are intertwined with the ecosystem. The Everglades is well studied, but linking scientific information to restoration action requires that information be coproduced and carefully communicated to make scientific information credible, relevant, and accepted by stakeholders. Guided by decision‐maker key questions, the Synthesis of Everglades Restoration and Ecosystem Services (SERES) project used a team of specialists to synthesize scientific information across disciplines and evaluate four restoration scenarios that differed in water storage and removal of barriers to overland flow. Capital and operation costs were calculated for all scenarios and the results were communicated to policymakers and other stakeholders with the help of a graphic artist. Restoration options were evaluated in areas of hydrology, soil accretion, landscape processes, and small fish and wading bird dynamics. All scenarios provided substantial improvements to the biological system compared to the existing conditions. The option that expanded aboveground surface water storage and reduced barriers to water flow by 69% which allowed an estimated 91% of predrainage flows to reach the Gulf provided the best ecologic benefits for the least resources spent. The SERES project provides a practical process for improving knowledge exchange among stakeholders involved in restoring large‐scale ecosystems.