Quantifying nitrogen cycling rates in freshwater marshes of the southern Everglades using 15N tracer techniques

Jeffrey Robert Wozniak, Florida International University


This dissertation research project addressed the question of how hydrologic restoration of the Everglades is impacting the nutrient dynamics of marsh ecosystems in the southern Everglades. These effects were analyzed by quantifying nitrogen (N) cycle dynamics in the region. I utilized stable isotope tracer techniques to investigate nitrogen uptake and cycling between the major ecosystem components of the freshwater marsh system. I recorded the natural isotopic signatures (δ15N and δ 13C) for major ecosystem components from the three major watersheds of the Everglades: Shark River Slough, Taylor Slough, and C-111 basin. Analysis of δ15 N and δ13C natural abundance data were used to demonstrate the spatial extent to which nitrogen from anthropogenic or naturally enriched sources is entering the marshes of the Everglades. In addition, I measured the fluxes on N between various ecosystem components at both near-canal and estuarine ecotone locations. Lastly, I investigated the effect of three phosphorus load treatments (0.00 mg P m-2, 6.66 mg P m-2, and 66.6 mg P m-2) on the rate and magnitude of ecosystem N-uptake and N-cycling. The δ15N and δ13C natural abundance data supported the hypothesis that ecosystem components from near-canal sites have heavier, more enriched δ 15N isotopic signatures than downstream sites. The natural abundance data also showed that the marshes of the southern Everglades are acting as a sink for isotopically heavier, canal-borne dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and a source for "new" marsh derived dissolved organic nitrogen (DON). In addition, the 15N mesocosm data showed the rapid assimilation of the 15N tracer by the periphyton component and the delayed N uptake by soil and macrophyte components in the southern Everglades. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Ecology|Biogeochemistry

Recommended Citation

Wozniak, Jeffrey Robert, "Quantifying nitrogen cycling rates in freshwater marshes of the southern Everglades using 15N tracer techniques" (2006). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3249725.