Florida Bay is more saline than it was historically, and reduced freshwater flows may lead to more phosphorus inputs to the mangrove ecotone from the marine end-member. This is important given plans to restore freshwater flow into eastern Florida Bay. We investigated the relationships between salinity, nutrients, and hydrologic variables in the mangrove ecotone of Taylor Slough. We expected that total phosphorus (TP) would increase with salinity, reflecting a downstream marine source, while total nitrogen (TN) would increase with flow in the mangrove ecotone. Despite expectations of increased flows improving the ecological health of lower Taylor Slough and Florida Bay, total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) dynamics may shift in response to new conditions of flow and salinity as well as organic carbon, N, and P availability. Our results showed that TP concentrations are more discharge-driven while TN is more variable and potentially derived from different sources along the flow path from the freshwater Everglades marshes to Florida Bay. Increased flow of freshwater through Taylor Slough will likely decrease TP concentrations in this historically oligotrophic and P-limited ecosystem. However, more studies along the mangrove ecotone is needed to understand how increased flows will affect nitrogen dynamics relative to phosphorus.
Briceno, H.O., G. Miller, S.E. Davis. 2013. Relating freshwater flow with estuarine water quality in the southern Everglades mangrove ecotone. Wetlands DOI: 10.1007/s13157-013-0430-0