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Recent Fish Introductions Into Everglades National Park: An Unforeseen Consequence of Water Management?

Abstract

Non-native fishes present a management challenge to maintaining Everglades National Park (ENP) in a natural state. We summarized data from long-term fish monitoring studies in ENP and reviewed the timing of introductions relative to water-management changes. Beginning in the early 1950s, management actions have added canals, altered wetland habitats by flooding and drainage, and changed inflows into ENP, particularly in the Taylor Slough/C-111 basin and Rocky Glades. The first non-native fishes likely entered ENP by the late 1960s, but species numbers increased sharply in the early 1980s when new water-management actions were implemented. After 1999, eight non-native species and three native species, all previously recorded outside of Park boundaries, were found for the first time in ENP. Several of these incursions occurred following structural and operational changes that redirected water deliveries to wetlands open to the eastern boundary canals. Once established, control non-native fishes in Everglades wetlands is difficult; therefore, preventing introductions is key to their management. Integrating actions that minimize the spread of non-native species into protected natural areas into the adaptive management process for planning, development, and operation of water-management features may help to achieve the full suite of objectives for Everglades restoration.

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Acknowledgments

We appreciate the assistance of colleagues, technicians, and volunteers who have contributed to this work over many years, especially Z. Fratto and S. Perry. Our work was funded by sources that include: base funding from ENP and USGS, the Critical Ecosystem Science Initiative, Modified Water Deliveries, and CERP Monitoring and Assessment Programs. This publication was produced as part of a special issue devoted to investigating the ecological response of over 20 years of hydrologic restoration and active management in the Taylor Slough drainage of Everglades National Park. Support for this special issue was provided by Everglades National Park, the Southeast Environmental Research Center, the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program (National Science Foundation cooperative agreement #DBI-0620409), the Everglades Foundation, and the South Florida Water Management District.

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Correspondence to Jeffrey L. Kline.

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Kline, J.L., Loftus, W.F., Kotun, K. et al. Recent Fish Introductions Into Everglades National Park: An Unforeseen Consequence of Water Management?. Wetlands 34, 175–187 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-012-0362-0

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Keywords

  • Non-native fishes
  • Cichlids
  • Everglades
  • Canals
  • Wetlands
  • Water management
  • Restoration