The Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site seeks to understand how global climate change and shifting approaches to water management impact the Florida Everglades and the 6 million residents in the region. By conducting extended-duration research in freshwater wetlands, mangrove swamps and shallow seagrass communities of Florida Bay, the FCE LTER employs long-term datasets to determine how the amount and quality of fresh water flowing through the Everglades influences ecological processes in the coastal zone. These key processes include rehydration of the freshwater aquifer, which supplies the Everglades and Floridians with potable water, and carbon accretion, which buffers coastal systems from sea level rise and storm damage. Coupled socio-economic studies reveal how decisions about Everglades restoration influence - and are influenced by - the human history of dependence on local natural resources. The project will also address the sustainability of these resources in the face of sea level rise.
The FCE LTER is dedicated to partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, creating a critical hub for Everglades restoration science and a global example for the successful conveyance of science into restoration policy. The program is similarly dedicated to educating all levels of the public via a web portal, videos, presentations and publications; by training graduate students to be professional scientists; and through K-12 education programs in the south Florida majority-minority community. The FCE LTER collaborates internationally to understand the Everglades in the context of other large wetlands, and to examine the dynamics and properties of emergent socio-ecological systems under complex conditions of change.