FCE LTER Journal Articles


Multi-Scaled Grassland-Woody Plant Dynamics in the Heterogeneous Marl Prairies of the Southern Everglades


The Everglades freshwater marl prairie is a dynamic and spatially heterogeneous landscape, containing thousands of tree islands nested within a marsh matrix. Spatial processes underlie population and community dynamics across the mosaic, especially the balance between woody and graminoid components, and landscape patterns reflect interactions among multiple biotic and abiotic drivers. To better understand these complex, multi-scaled relationships we employed a three-tiered hierarchical design to investigate the effects of seed source, hydrology, and more indirectly fire on the establishment of new woody recruits in the marsh, and to assess current tree island patterning across the landscape. Our analyses were conducted at the ground level at two scales, which we term the micro- and meso-scapes, and results were related to remotely detected tree island distributions assessed in the broader landscape, that is, the macro-scape. Seed source and hydrologic effects on recruitment in the micro- and meso-scapes were analyzed via logistic regression, and spatial aggregation in the macro-scape was evaluated using a grid-based univariate O-ring function. Results varied among regions and scales but several general trends were observed. The patterning of adult populations was the strongest driver of recruitment in the micro- and meso-scape prairies, with recruits frequently aggregating around adults or tree islands. However in the macro-scape biologically associated (second order) aggregation was rare, suggesting that emergent woody patches are heavily controlled by underlying physical and environmental factors such as topography, hydrology, and fire.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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