Organic matter dynamics in the Florida coastal Everglades: A molecular marker and isotopic approach
Everglades National Park (ENP) is about to undergo the world's largest wetland restoration with the aim of improving the quality, timing and distribution of water flow. The changes in water flow are hypothesized to alter the nutrient fluxes and organic matter (OM) dynamics within ENP, especially in the estuarine areas. This study used a multi-proxy approach of molecular markers and stable δ 13C isotope measurements, to determine the present day OM dynamics in ENP. ^ OM dynamics in wetland soils/sediments have proved to be difficult to understand using traditional geochemical approaches. These are often inadequate to describe the multitude of OM sources (e.g. higher land plant, emergent vegetation, submerged vegetation) to the soils/sediments and the complex diagenetic processes that can alter the OM characteristics. A multi-proxy approach, however, that incorporates both molecular level and bulk parameter information is ideal to comprehend complex OM dynamics in aquatic environments. Therefore, biomass-specific molecular markers or proxies can be useful in tracing the sources and processing of OM. This approach was used to examine the OM dynamics in the two major drainage basins, Shark River Slough and Taylor River Slough, of ENP. Freshwater to marine transects were sampled in both systems for soils/sediments and suspended particulate organic matter (SPOM) to be characterized through bulk OM analyses, lipid biomarker determinations (e.g. sterols, fatty acids, hydrocarbons and triterpenoids) and compound-specific stable carbon isotope (δ 13C) determinations. ^ One key accomplishment of the research was the assessment of a molecular marker proxy (Paq) to distinguish between emergent/higher plant vegetation from submerged vegetation within ENP. This proxy proved to be quite useful at tracing OM inputs to the soils/sediments of ENP. A second key accomplishment was the development of a 3-way model using vegetation specific molecular markers. This novel, descriptive model was successfully applied to the estuarine areas of Taylor and Shark River sloughs, providing clear evidence of mixing of freshwater, estuarine and marine derived OM in these areas. In addition, diagenetic transformations of OM in these estuaries were found to be quite different between Taylor and Shark Rivers, and are likely a result of OM quality and hydrological differences. ^
Ralph N Mead,
"Organic matter dynamics in the Florida coastal Everglades: A molecular marker and isotopic approach"
(January 1, 2003).
ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU.