Florida Keys Marine Adaptation Planning

LOCATION |  Florida Keys, Florida

DATE | 2012


This project develops a method which has proven successful in terrestrial ecosystem planning, but has not yet been adopted in marine planning contexts: spatial scenario simulation. This approach first develops a set of “alternative futures” and examines their effects on natural resources. It then couples these expected outcomes against a number of adaptation strategies to plan for future conditions then tests the effectiveness of a set of potential management actions across this range of conditions. The scenarios are tied to IPCC scenarios, and they also encompass a discrete set of potential management strategies.

In order to judge the effectiveness of these strategies, we have chosen a set of indicator species and associated habitats. These have been chosen to be tractable within a small study, and yet to represent a reasonable diversity of conditions within the region. Climate change variables that will be examined include sea level rise, ocean acidification, and changes to sea surface temperature. The habitats that have been selected include: 1) coral reef, 2) mangroves, and 3) beaches. The species that have been selected include: 1) Goliath grouper, 2) spiny lobster, and 3) loggerhead turtle. The spatial scope of the project includes the Florida Keys and southern peninsular Florida south of 25.25° north latitude. The westward boundary will be the islands west of Key West up to approximately the Marquesas although this may vary depending on data availability.

Three workshops will be conducted which will address specific parts of this project. All workshops will be convened in Marathon, Florida, except as noted. Pre-workshop meetings were held in May to help validate the initialization assumptions for SLAMM inundation modeling for the Florida Keys and southern peninsular Florida region.



Workshop 1 |  Developing Scenarios (Part 1) and Assessing Climate Change (Part 2) has been completed.  The first workshop was a two day workshop that took place on July 17 – 18, 2012.  The workshop was divided into two sections.  The first day was held for natural resources manager with the goal of identifying climate change (i.e. IPCC scenarios) and human dimensions scenarios that will be most relevant for their future planning.  The second day was held for climate change impact experts and habitat specialists for the focal habitats with the goal of identifying what changes may be expected to occur to the focal habitats under different climate change scenarios.

Workshop 2 |  The second workshop will bring together species experts on spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara), and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta).  These species were selected because they represent a suite of species covering the range of endangered (turtle), protected (Goliath grouper), and commercially important (spiny lobster).  They also represent divergent taxonomic groups.  The species experts will review the results of the first workshop with respect to the habitat changes expected under the different scenarios, and will be asked to determine the expected changes to the different life-history stages of the species and predict how this may change populations.

The second-round characteristics of alternative future forms the basis for the species-level assessments.  These are undertaken using similar methods to prior steps.  The exact method will vary based on species chosen, and the availability of prior modeling and spatial data.  First existing literature is reviewed and experts are asked to create a conceptual model of species habitat relationships.  Then, with assistance from these experts and contributions of their observational data, relatively simple rule-based habitat suitability models are created.  These are mapped under each scenario using color gradients to indicate species habitat quality.

Workshop 3 |  The third round of refinement of scenarios and impact assessments comes with the consideration of human factors.  A set of national, regional and local managers will be asked to join this workshop, including participants from Federal agencies, such as NOAA and FWS, and NGOs, such as TNC.  These stakeholders will be presented information about prior climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and proposals.  Those specific to the project area will be presented where possible by their original authors or participants.  We will also conduct broader national and international precedents research in order to expand the range of ideas considered.  Then stakeholder group will then be asked to pick a range of policies and responses which they feel are possible in the region and worthy of further exploration.  For example, stakeholders will likely want to consider both “business as usual” scenarios and others with significant physical or policy changes.  Human responses to climate change such as shoreline hardening or artificial reef creation may also be included.



2012 Keys Study Region


Focal Zone 1


Focal Zone 2

Focal Zone 3




Dr. Michael Flaxman facilitating a discussion during group breakout session

Bob Glazer taking notes during group breakout session


Cindy Chu drawing on maps during  breakout group session




Cindy Chu, GeoAdaptive: cchu@geoadaptive.com

Bob Glazer, FWC-FWRI: bob.glazer@myfwc.com