Rapid Assessment of Restoration Performance Measures at Multiple Scales in the Greater Everglades Using Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy
Large-scale restoration requires ecosystem performance measures that can function as rapid quantitative benchmarks of recovery or degradation over time.Soil provides a useful indicator of ecosystem condition because it is sensitive to change, ubiquitous and responds in relatively well-understood ways to anthropogenic impairment gradients.This project presents a method for rapid assessment of a wide array of soil performance measures based on Visible Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (VNIRS), a technique that relates high resolution light reflectance characteristics to physical, chemical and biological attributes of soil and plant sample attributes. Here we explore applications at three nested spatial scales of analysis. First, we use a soil archive that covers the entire Greater Everglades region to develop chemometric models that relate spectra and numerous ecosystem performance measures. Second, we explore specific nutrient enrichment gradients in the northern Everglades to determine if spectral reflectance can provide low cost indication and early detection of enrichment processes. Finally, we link spectral reflectance models to a variety of process and state indicators of landscape dynamics in the ridge-slough mosaic, including mineralization rates, carbon quality and marl/peat development. At each scale, we provide chemometric models that have multiple advantages:
(1) Develop calibrations between routine soil performance measures and spectral reflectance signatures using a spatially comprehensive soil archive (n ~ 5000) collected throughout the Everglades by the Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory (WBL) at the Univ. of Florida (UF) during 2003.
(2) Explore spectroscopic methods (using calibration and calibration-free methods) to predict integrated soil performance measures (nutrient enrichment, changes in carbon quality, changes in microbial indicators, carbon and nitrogen mineralization rates) along known environmental and anthropogenic disturbance gradients.
(3) Develop and disseminate a suite of analytical tools that apply to performance assessment across scales in support of several Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) objectives (e.g. fine scale spatial analysis for hydrologic, contaminant and ecological model boundary conditions; baseline condition development for simulation model support; changes in landscape patterns - e.g. ridge and slough soil accretion models; detailed studies of biogeochemical kinetics) for decision support and improved system assessment.