Led by Dr. Jerry Lorenz, Audubon of Florida’s State Director of Research, the Everglades Science Center staff is dedicated to providing the needed information to better understand Everglades restoration goals and progress. Since 1989, Lorenz has led staff in a multifaceted approach to evaluating the overall health of the Everglades ecosystem using the Roseate Spoonbill as an indicator species. Data is collected at a network of research sites scattered throughout the southern Everglades on the shores of Florida and Biscayne Bay, as well as mangrove islands that serve as Roseate Spoonbill nesting areas in Florida Bay.
Everglades Science Center has four distinct research teams that focus on the following ecosystem components: hydrology/water quality, submerged aquatic vegetation, prey-based fish, and Roseate Spoonbills and Reddish Egret Nesting.
Spoonbill nesting success is analyzed in relation to the other ecosystem components. Once the data is combined and evaluated together, a clear picture emerges of the state of that particular location in the Everglades and the ecosystem as a whole.
The field research requires incredible stamina to carry out the physically demanding work for long hours in the harsh South Florida environment (intense sun, heat, biting insects, and deep water/mud). Also required is the ability to deal with swimming or wading in murky water home to potentially dangerous wildlife (i.e., alligators, crocodiles, sharks and venomous snakes).
Laboratory work includes cataloging samples by tediously sorting fish and recording their numbers and species. Once the samples are preserved, data is tirelessly entered into the most comprehensive mangrove fishes database in the world. Other tasks include preparing data for reporting and publication purposes, and communicating results and observations to Audubon policy staff and officials at water managing agencies.