Environmental Management

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 807–823 | Cite as

Using Scenario Planning to Evaluate the Impacts of Climate Change on Wildlife Populations and Communities in the Florida Everglades

  • Christopher P. Catano
  • Stephanie S. Romañach
  • James M. Beerens
  • Leonard G. Pearlstine
  • Laura A. Brandt
  • Kristen M. Hart
  • Frank J. Mazzotti
  • Joel C. Trexler


It is uncertain how climate change will impact hydrologic drivers of wildlife population dynamics in freshwater wetlands of the Florida Everglades, or how to accommodate this uncertainty in restoration decisions. Using projections of climate scenarios for the year 2060, we evaluated how several possible futures could affect wildlife populations (wading birds, fish, alligators, native apple snails, amphibians, threatened and invasive species) across the Everglades landscape and inform planning already underway. We used data collected from prior research and monitoring to parameterize our wildlife population models. Hydrologic data were simulated using a spatially explicit, regional-scale model. Our scenario evaluations show that expected changes in temperature, precipitation, and sea level could significantly alter important ecological functions. All of our wildlife indicators were negatively affected by scenarios with less rainfall and more evapotranspiration. Under such scenarios, habitat suitability was substantially reduced for iconic animals such as wading birds and alligators. Conversely, the increased rainfall scenario benefited aquatic prey productivity and apex predators. Cascading impacts on non-native species is speculative, but increasing temperatures could increase the time between cold events that currently limit expansion and abundance of non-native fishes, amphibians, and reptiles with natural ranges in the tropics. This scenario planning framework underscored the benefits of proceeding with Everglades restoration plans that capture and clean more freshwater with the potential to mitigate rainfall loss and postpone impacts of sea level rise.


Climate change Ecosystem restoration Habitat suitability models Hydrologic disturbance Wildlife management Scenario planning 



We thank Jacob Bransky for assistance with figures, Erik Noonburg for aiding the development of the wading bird models, and the US Army Corps of Engineers for funding. Thanks for additional software development of the alligator model go to Craig Conzelmann, Kevin Suir, and Mark McKelvy at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center. Thanks to Phil Darby, Don DeAngelis, and Kevin Suir who developed the apple snail model. Also thanks to Hardin Waddle, Susan Walls, and Sumani Chimmula who developed the amphibian model. Partial funding for alligator, snail, and amphibian modeling was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science Program. Freshwater fish modeling was supported by cooperative agreement W912HZ-10-2-P00003 between the US Army Corps of Engineers and FIU and task agreement P12AC10563 between Everglades National Park and FIU. This material was developed in collaboration with the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under National Science Foundation Grant No. DEB-1237517.

Ethical standards

All research presented in this article comply with the laws and ethical standards of the United States of America and all entities and agencies represented by the authors. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Supplementary material

267_2014_397_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2262 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher P. Catano
    • 1
  • Stephanie S. Romañach
    • 2
  • James M. Beerens
    • 3
  • Leonard G. Pearlstine
    • 4
  • Laura A. Brandt
    • 5
  • Kristen M. Hart
    • 2
  • Frank J. Mazzotti
    • 6
  • Joel C. Trexler
    • 7
  1. 1.Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveySoutheast Ecological Science CenterDavieUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  4. 4.National Park ServiceEverglades and Dry Tortugas National ParksHomesteadUSA
  5. 5.U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceDavieUSA
  6. 6.Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education CenterUniversity of FloridaDavieUSA
  7. 7.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityNorth MiamiUSA

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