Recent and Historic Drivers of Landscape Change in the Everglades Ridge, Slough, and Tree Island Mosaic
More than half of the original Everglades extent formed a patterned peat mosaic of elevated ridges, lower and more open sloughs, and tree islands aligned parallel to the dominant flow direction. This ecologically important landscape structure remained in a dynamic equilibrium for millennia prior to rapid degradation over the past century in response to human manipulation of the hydrologic system. Restoration of the patterned landscape structure is one of the primary objectives of the Everglades restoration effort. Recent research has revealed that three main drivers regulated feedbacks that initiated and maintained landscape structure: the spatial and temporal distribution of surface water depths, surface and subsurface flow, and phosphorus supply. Causes of recent degradation include but are not limited to perturbations to these historically important controls; shifts in mineral and sulfate supply may have also contributed to degradation. Restoring predrainage hydrologic conditions will likely preserve remaining landscape pattern structure, provided a sufficient supply of surface water with low nutrient and low total dissolved solids content exists to maintain a rainfall-driven water chemistry. However, because of hysteresis in landscape evolution trajectories, restoration of areas with a fully degraded landscape could require additional human intervention.
Larsen, L., N. Aumen, C. Bernhardt, V. Engel, T. Givnish, S.E. Hagerthey, J. Harvey, L. Leonard, P. McCormick, C. McVoy, G.B. Noe, M. Nungesser, K. Rutchey, F.H. Sklar, T. Troxler, J.C. Volin, D.A. Willard. 2011. Recent and Historic Drivers of Landscape Change in the Everglades Ridge, Slough, and Tree Island Mosaic. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 41: 344-381.
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