Everglades National Park is an extensive wetland home to various species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. While many are familiar with the Florida panther, alligators, and the great blue heron, there are small invertebrates of great importance that serve as the basis of the food web. In particular, grass shrimp, of the genus Palaemonetes, are found in abundance in the Everglades and are essential prey of fish and wading birds (Anderson, 1985). There are four species of Palaemonetes found in Everglades National Park that inhabit fresh water, brackish and marine habitats.
The goal of this project is to study how the different species of grass shrimp are distributed along a transect in Everglades National Park. The transect begins in the freshwaters of the Shark River Slough transitioning into mangrove-lined creeks of Rookery Branch, and continuing into Tarpon Bay. Tarpon Bay empties into the Shark River that eventually reaches Ponce de Leon Bay and the Gulf of Mexico (See Appendix A). Shrimp will be collected in minnow traps that will be distributed along the transect at different sites of interest. The shrimp will then be preserved and brought back to the laboratory for identification and further study. Data analysis will include using MNOVA's and nested ANOVA's and will be completed using the software systems SAS and Primer. We believe we will find interesting results of where the different species of shrimp are located. Learning how the species segregate along the transect, from fresh to marine waters, is of importance, because it can show if the different species are segregating to benefit from their optimal salinity ranges or because of more complex issues like competition between species.
The results of this study can help gain a better understand of grass shrimp ecology and can aid in Everglades restoration efforts.