FCE LTER Journal Articles


Phosphorus budgets in Everglades wetland ecosystems: the effects of hydrology and nutrient enrichment


The Florida Everglades is a naturally oligotrophic hydroscape that has experienced large changes in ecosystem structure and function as the result of increased anthropogenic phosphorus (P) loading and hydrologic changes. We present whole-ecosystem models of P cycling for Everglades wetlands with differing hydrology and P enrichment with the goal of synthesizing existing information into ecosystem P budgets. Budgets were developed for deeper water oligotrophic wet prairie/slough (‘Slough’), shallower water oligotrophic Cladium jamaicense (‘Cladium’), partially enriched C. jamaicense/Typha spp. mixture (‘Cladium/Typha’), and enriched Typha spp. (‘Typha’) marshes. The majority of ecosystem P was stored in the soil in all four ecosystem types, with the flocculent detrital organic matter (floc) layer at the bottom of the water column storing the next largest proportion of ecosystem P pools. However, most P cycling involved ecosystem components in the water column (periphyton, floc, and consumers) in deeper water, oligotrophic Slough marsh. Fluxes of P associated with macrophytes were more important in the shallower water, oligotrophic Cladium marsh. The two oligotrophic ecosystem types had similar total ecosystem P stocks and cycling rates, and low rates of P cycling associated with soils. Phosphorus flux rates cannot be estimated for ecosystem components residing in the water column in Cladium/Typha or Typha marshes due to insufficient data. Enrichment caused a large increase in the importance of macrophytes to P cycling in Everglades wetlands. The flux of P from soil to the water column, via roots to live aboveground tissues to macrophyte detritus, increased from 0.03 and 0.2 g P m−2 yr−1 in oligotrophic Slough and Cladium marsh, respectively, to 1.1 g P m−2 yr−1 in partially enriched Cladium/Typha, and 1.6 g P m−2 yr−1 in enriched Typha marsh. This macrophyte translocation P flux represents a large source of internal eutrophication to surface waters in P-enriched areas of the Everglades.


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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