Ecological monitoring is key to successful ecosystem restoration. Because all components within an ecosystem cannot be monitored, it is important to select indicators that are representative of the system, integrate system responses, clearly respond to system change, can be effectively and efficiently monitored, and are easily communicated. The roseate spoonbill is one ecological indicator species that meets these criteria within the Everglades ecosystem. Monitoring of roseate spoonbills in Florida Bay over the past 70 years has shown that aspects of this species’ reproduction respond to changes in hydrology and corresponding changes in prey abundance and availability. This indicator uses nesting location, nest numbers and nesting success in response to food abundance and availability. In turn, prey abundance is a function of hydrological conditions (especially water depth) and salinity. Metrics and targets for these performance measures were established based on previous findings. Values of each metric were translated into indices and identified as stoplight colors with green indicating that a given target has been met, yellow indicating that conditions are below the target, but within an acceptable range of it, and red indicating the measure is performing poorly in relation to the target.
Lorenz, J.J., B. Langan-Mulrooney, P. Frezza, R.G. Harvey, F.J. Mazzotti. 2009. Roseate spoonbill reproduction as an indicator for restoration of the Everglades and the Everglades estuaries. Ecological Indicators 9(6): S96-S107.