There is a great deal of interest in enhancing the multiple ecosystem services provided by agricultural lands, but little research has examined how management for specific ecosystem services affects other services. There is a need to examine these services in order to make informed decisions concerning managing agricultural environments. The objectives of this project are to: (1) Quantify biodiversity and production services in the context of an existing water services pilot project provided by the Florida Ranchlands Environmental Services Project (FRESP) in the Northern Everglades watershed (2) evaluate the degree to which provision of water services might create positive or negative trade-offs for the additional ecosystem services of biodiversity, or forage production (3) determine how environmental stressors of water availability, nutrients, and pests /invasive species constrain services provided and whether enhancing water services affects stressors (4) refine and enhance existing decision tools to provide flexible and transparent trade-off evaluation of multiple ecosystem services and agricultural production functions at scales relevant to decisions by ranchers and regional decision makers (5) implement a transparent and rigorous process for QA/QC of data on ecosystem services, with well documented metadata and project data available broadly via Internet and ftp.
The project methodology builds on hydrologic measures (water retention and nutrient load reduction) collected under FRESP. We will add quantitative field sampling of biodiversity (frogs, fishes, native plants), forage, and stressors (invasive plants, pest insects), and enhanced hydrological modeling at 4 ranches, to derive functional models that will assess tradeoffs and parameterize a Decision Support System DSS. The relationships between water services under different scenarios, and production, biodiversity and stressors will be used within DSS to analyze trade-offs among multiple ecosystem services under the payment for environmental servcies program.
Results will test tradeoffs among ecosystem services in a threatened agro-ecosystem, within the context of Everglades restoration. We have an unprecedented opportunity to combine hydrologic data and models with new ecological measures (this proposal) to assess how managing for one service (water) affects other services (biodiversity) and stressors (invasive species, pests). Our results will integrate with existing economic decision support tools, and contribute new scenario analysis in a real-world ecosystem services project. There is a direct link between the outputs of our proposed project and benefits to regional environmental goals.