Over the last one hundred years, compartmentalization and water management activities have reduced water flow to the ridge and slough landscape of the Everglades. As a result, the once corrugated landscape has become topographically and vegetationally uniform. The focus of this study was to quantify variation in surface flow in the ridge and slough landscape and to relate flow conditions to particulate transport and deposition. Over the 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 wet seasons, surface velocities and particulate accumulation were measured in upper Shark River Slough in Everglades National Park. Landscape characteristics such as elevation, plant density and biomass also were examined to determine their impact on flow characteristics and material transport. The results of this study demonstrate that the release of water during the wet season not only increases water levels, but also increased flow speeds and particulate transport and availability. Further, flow speeds were positively and significantly correlated with water level thereby enhancing particulate transport in sloughs relative to ridges especially during peak flow periods. Our results also indicate that the distribution of biomass in the water column, including floating plants and periphyton, affects velocity magnitude and shape of vertical profiles, especially in the sloughs where Utricularia spp. and periphyton mats are more abundant. Plot clearing experiments suggest that the presence of surface periphyton and Utricularia exert greater control over flow characteristics than the identity (i.e., sawgrass or spike rush) or density of emergent macrophytes, two parameters frequently incorporated into models describing flow through vegetated canopies. Based on these results, we suggest that future modeling efforts must take the presence of floating biomass, such as Utricularia, and presence of periphyton into consideration when describing particulate transport.
Leonard, L., A.L. Croft, D.L. Childers, S. Mitchell-Bruker, H. Solo-Gabriele, M.S. Ross. 2006. Characteristics of surface-water flows in the ridge and slough landscape of Everglades National Park: implications for particulate transport. Hydrobiologia 569(1): 5-22.