Evelyn E. Gaiser
George M. Barley Jr. Eminent Scholars Chair, Florida International University
Abstract: Battling climate change in Florida: long-term studies reveal the social-ecological urgency of freshwater restoration.
Coastal ecosystems like the Florida Everglades provide many benefits and services to society including protection from storms, habitat and food for important fisheries, support of tourism and local economies, filtration of fresh water, and burial and storage of carbon that offsets greenhouse gas emissions. Like many coastal ecosystems, the Florida Everglades has been threatened by diversion of fresh water to support urban and agricultural expansion. At the same time, sea-level rise has caused saltwater intrusion of coastal ecosystems which stresses freshwater species, causes elevation loss, and contaminates municipal water resources. However, restoration of seasonal pulses of fresh water is beginning counteract these threats. This presentation will review the threats facing the Everglades and provide a glimpse into how freshwater restoration is projected to rehabilitate the ecosystem’s plants, animals, functions and services – but only if the required supply of clean water is urgently delivered to slow the relentlessly accelerating impacts of climate change.
Dr. Evelyn Gaiser, Distinguished University Professor of Biological Sciences, holds the George M. Barley, Jr., Eminent Scholars Chair at Florida International University (FIU). She is an aquatic ecologist whose research is focused on what algae can tell us about the consequences of climate and land-use change to lakes and wetlands. She has published over 130 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and one book informing the protection of waterways and the progress of Everglades restoration. For 15 years, Gaiser led the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program (FCE LTER, http://fcelter.fiu.edu/), one of only 28 such programs funded by the National Science Foundation. This multidisciplinary program studies how climate change and resource management decisions interact to influence freshwater availability, ecosystem dynamics, and the value and utilization of coastal ecosystem services by people. She chairs the Executive Board of LTER Network. As former Executive Director of FIU's School of Environment, Arts & Society (2014-2018), Gaiser has united faculty and students across disciplines to foster sustainability of the planet through inspirational teaching, stimulating creative works, and groundbreaking research. She has also facilitated the advancement of science-based policy change through multi-institutional collaborations, public-private partnerships, and engagement of the fine arts. She is a member of the State of Florida Blue Green Algae Task Force and the Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine of Florida. She received her B.S. from Kent State University, M.S. from Iowa State University, and Ph.D. at University of Georgia. She is also a trained musician and has created creative works to express science through music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7fCmHG3h7k).
Selected Publication Links
- Long-term ecological research and the COVID-19 anthropause: A window to understanding social–ecological disturbance
- Periphyton as an indicator of saltwater intrusion into freshwater wetlands: insights from experimental manipulations
- Long-Term Ecological Research and Evolving Frameworks of Disturbance Ecology