FCE LTER Journal Articles


Biomarker Assessment of Spatial and Temporal Changes in the Composition of Flocculent Material (Floc) in the Subtropical Wetland of the Florida Coastal Everglades


Flocculent material (floc) is an important energy source in wetlands. In the Florida Everglades, floc is present in both freshwater marshes and coastal environments and plays a key role in food webs and nutrient cycling. However, not much is known about its environmental dynamics, in particular its biological sources and bio-reactivity. We analysed floc samples collected from different environments in the Florida Everglades and applied biomarkers and pigment chemotaxonomy to identify spatial and seasonal differences in organic matter sources. An attempt was made to link floc composition with algal and plant productivity. Spatial differences were observed between freshwater marsh and estuarine floc. Freshwater floc receives organic matter inputs from local periphyton mats, as indicated by microbial biomarkers and chlorophyll-a estimates. At the estuarine sites, the floc is dominated by mangrove as well as diatom inputs from the marine end-member. The hydroperiod (duration and depth of inundation) at the freshwater sites influences floc organic matter preservation, where the floc at the short-hydroperiod site is more oxidised likely due to periodic dry-down conditions. Seasonal differences in floc composition were not consistent and the few that were observed are likely linked to the primary productivity of the dominant biomass (periphyton in the freshwater marshes and mangroves in the estuarine zone). Molecular evidence for hydrological transport of floc material from the freshwater marshes to the coastal fringe was also observed. With the on-going restoration of the Florida Everglades, it is important to gain a better understanding of the biogeochemical dynamics of floc, including its sources, transformations and reactivity.


The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EN13062

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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