Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geosciences

First Advisor's Name

René M. Price

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

William T. Anderson

Third Advisor's Name

Leonard J. Scinto

Fourth Advisor's Name

Thomas W. Dreschel

Fifth Advisor's Name

Michael S. Ross

Keywords

ecohydrology, hydrology, biogeochemistry, stable isotopes, pedology

Date of Defense

10-26-2011

Abstract

The marked decline in tree island cover across the Everglades over the last century, has been attributed to landscape-scale hydrologic degradation. To preserve and restore Everglades tree islands, a clear understanding of tree island groundwater-surface water interactions is needed, as these interactions strongly influence the chemistry of shallow groundwater and the location and patterns of vegetation in many wetlands. The goal of this work was to define the relationship between groundwater-surface water interactions, plant-water uptake, and the groundwater geochemical condition of tree islands. Groundwater and surface water levels, temperature, and chemistry were monitored on eight constructed and one natural tree island in the Everglades from 2007-2010. Sap flow, diurnal water table fluctuations and stable oxygen isotopes of stem, ground and soil water were used to determine the effect of plant-water uptake on groundwater-surface water interactions. Hydrologic and geochemical modeling was used to further explore the effect of plant-groundwater-surface water interactions on ion concentrations and potential mineral formation.

A comparison of groundwater and surface water levels, along with calculated groundwater evapotranspiration rates, revealed that the presence of a water table depression under the islands was concurrent with elevated groundwater uptake by the overlying trees. Groundwater chemistry indicated that the water table depression resulted in the advective movement of regional groundwater into the islands. A chloride budget and oxygen isotopes indicated that the elevated ionic strength of tree island groundwater was a result of transpiration. Geochemical modeling indicated that the elevated ionic strength of the groundwater created conditions conducive to the precipitation of aragonite and calcite, and suggests that trees may alter underlying geologic and hydrologic properties. The interaction of tree island and regional groundwater was mediated by the underlying soil type and aboveground biomass, with greater inputs of regional groundwater found on islands underlain by limestone with high amounts of aboveground biomass. Variations in climate, geologic material and aboveground biomass created complex groundwater-surface water interactions that affected the hydrogeochemical condition of tree islands.

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