Using Aquatic Invertebrates to Assess Restoration of the Kissimmee

Using Aquatic Invertebrates to Assess Restoration of the Kissimmee River Ecosystem
Joseph W. Koebel Jr.
South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL, USA
Aquatic invertebrates were identified as a critical biological component for assessing
restoration of ecological integrity within the Kissimmee River ecosystem. Aquatic
invertebrates play an integral role in ecosystem processes, decomposition of detritus, and
energy flow to higher trophic levels. Aquatic invertebrates also have a long history of
use in biomonitoring and can serve as indicators of biotic integrity and ecosystem health.
Channelization of the Kissimmee River eliminated flow through remnant river channels
and altered aquatic invertebrate community structure. Most aquatic invertebrate taxa
inhabiting remnant river channels are characteristic of lentic (non-flowing) habitats and
adapted to low levels of dissolved oxygen. Restoration of the Kissimmee River will
reestablish important habitat characteristics such as current velocity, increased levels of
dissolved oxygen, and a sand substratum. These habitat characteristics are expected to
lead to reestablishment of an aquatic invertebrate community characteristic of unmodified
southeastern Coastal Plain rivers.
Baseline (pre-restoration) aquatic invertebrate community structure characteristics will be
briefly discussed. Expectations for restoration of aquatic invertebrate community
structure within river channel habitats will be presented along with a discussion of initial
responses following reestablished flow.
Joseph W. Koebel Jr., South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Road,
West Palm Beach, FL 33406, Phone: 561-682-6925, Email: [email protected], Oral,
Ecology and Ecological Modeling – Kissimmee River