Everglades Wading Birds

Picture of researchers in an airboat on shallow water with lily pads and trees in the background

The Everglades is a unique, productive, and beautiful ecosystem. Large populations of long-legged wading birds are a defining characteristic of this ecosystem and a key component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. They are also a tangible, aesthetic piece of the Everglades that society values and understands.

We run a long-term study started by Peter Frederick that has systematically monitored these birds for over 20 years, making it one of the longest-running and largest scale wading bird monitoring projects in the world. Together with partners at Audubon of Florida, Florida Atlantic University, and Everglades National Park, we use airplanes, drones, field work, and computer vision to monitor the timing, distribution, and outcomes of nesting. We conduct research to guide restoration and improve our understanding of large scale ecological dynamics including: 1) forecasting cross-scale bird dynamics; 2) modeling demography and habitat choice of endangered species; 3) understanding the effects of methylmercury on breeding; and 4) improving monitoring through technology.