The Role of the Everglades Mangrove Ecotone Region (EMER) in Regulating Nutrient Cycling and Wetland Productivity in South Florida
The authors summarize the main findings of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (FCE-LTER) program in the EMER, within the context of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), to understand how regional processes, mediated by water flow, control population and ecosystem dynamics across the EMER landscape. Tree canopies with maximum height <3 m cover 49% of the EMER, particularly in the SE region. These scrub/dwarf mangroves are the result of a combination of low soil phosphorus (P < 59 μg P g dw−1) in the calcareous marl substrate and long hydroperiod. Phosphorus limits the EMER and its freshwater watersheds due to the lack of terrigenous sediment input and the phosphorus-limited nature of the freshwater Everglades. Reduced freshwater delivery over the past 50 years, combined with Everglades compartmentalization and a 10 cm rise in coastal sea level, has led to the landward transgression (1.5 km in 54 years) of the mangrove ecotone. Seasonal variation in freshwater input strongly controls the temporal variation of nitrogen and P exports (99%) from the Everglades to Florida Bay. Rapid changes in nutrient availability and vegetation distribution during the last 50 years show that future ecosystem restoration actions and land use decisions can exert a major influence, similar to sea level rise over the short term, on nutrient cycling and wetland productivity in the EMER.
Rivera-Monroy, V.H., R.R. Twilley, S.E. Davis, D.L. Childers, M. Simard, R.M. Chambers, R. Jaffe, J.N. Boyer, D.T. Rudnick, K. Zhang, E. Castaneda-Moya, S.M.L. Ewe, R.M. Price, C. Coronado-Molina, M.S. Ross, T.J. Smith, B. Michot, E. Meselhe, W.K. Nuttle, T. Troxler, G.B. Noe. 2011. The Role of the Everglades Mangrove Ecotone Region (EMER) in Regulating Nutrient Cycling and Wetland Productivity in South Florida. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 41(S1): 633-669.