Drivers of Decadal-Scale Change in Southern Everglades Wetland Macrophyte Communities of the Coastal Ecotone
Understanding the relationships between hydrology and salinity and plant community structure and production is critical to allow predictions of wetland responses to altered water management, changing precipitation patterns and rising sea-level. We addressed how salinity, water depth, hydroperiod, canal inflows, and local precipitation control marsh macrophyte aboveground net primary production (ANPP) and structure in the coastal ecotone of the southern Everglades. We contrasted responses in two watersheds - Taylor Slough (TS) and C-111 - systems that have and will continue to experience changes in water management. Based on long-term trajectories in plant responses, we found continued evidence of increasing water levels and length of inundation in the C-111 watershed south of the C-111 canal. We also found strong differentiation among sites in upper TS that was dependent on hydrology. Finally, salinity, local precipitation and freshwater discharge from upstream explained over 80 % of the variance in Cladium ANPP at a brackish water site in TS. Moreover, our study showed that, while highly managed, the TS and C-111 watersheds maintain legacies in spatial pattern that would facilitate hydrologic restoration. Based on the trajectories in Cladium and Eleocharis, shifts in plant community structure could occur within 5–10 years of sustained water management change.
Troxler, T., D.L. Childers, C.J. Madden. 2013. Drivers of Decadal-Scale Change in Southern Everglades Wetland Macrophyte Communities of the Coastal Ecotone. Wetlands DOI: 10.1007/s13157-013-0446-5