Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geosciences

First Advisor's Name

Rene Price

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dean Whitman

Third Advisor's Name

Assefa Melesse

Fourth Advisor's Name

Steven Oberbauer

Keywords

everglades, water quality, disturbance, groundwater, surface water, remote sensing, Landsat, modeling

Date of Defense

1-21-2014

Abstract

Coastal environments can be highly susceptible to environmental changes caused by anthropogenic pressures and natural events. Both anthropogenic and natural perturbations may directly affect the amount and the quality of water flowing through the ecosystem, both in the surface and subsurface and can subsequently, alter ecological communities and functions. The Florida Everglades and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) are two large ecosystems with an extensive coastal mangrove ecotone that represent a historically altered and pristine environment, respectively. Rising sea levels, climate change, increased water demand, and salt water intrusion are growing concerns in these regions and underlies the need for a better understanding of the present conditions. The goal of my research was to better understand various ecohydrological, environmental, and hydrogeochemical interactions and relationships in carbonate mangrove wetlands. A combination of aqueous geochemical analyses and visible and near-infrared reflectance data were employed to explore relationships between surface and subsurface water chemistry and spectral biophysical stress in mangroves. Optical satellite imagery and field collected meteorological data were used to estimate surface energy and evapotranspiration and measure variability associated with hurricanes and restoration efforts. Furthermore, major ionic and nutrient concentrations, and stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen were used to distinguish water sources and infer coastal groundwater discharge by applying the data to a combined principal component analysis-end member mixing model. Spectral reflectance measured at the field and satellite scales were successfully used to estimate surface and subsurface water chemistry and model chloride concentrations along the southern Everglades. Satellite imagery indicated that mangrove sites that have less tidal flushing and hydrogeomorphic heterogeneity tend to have more variable evapotranspiration and soil heat flux in response to storms and restoration. Lastly, water chemistry and multivariate analyses indicated two distinct fresh groundwater sources that discharge to the phosphorus-limited estuaries and bays of the Sian Ka’an Biopshere Reserve; and that coastal groundwater discharge was an important source for phosphorus. The results of the study give us a better understanding of the ecohydrological and hydrogeological processes in carbonate mangrove environments that can be then be extrapolated to similar coastal ecosystems in the Caribbean.

Identifier

FI14040871

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