FCE LTER Journal Articles


Long-term environmental drivers of DOC fluxes: Linkages between management, hydrology and climate in a subtropical coastal estuary


Urban and agricultural development of the South Florida peninsula has disrupted historic freshwater flow in the Everglades, a hydrologically connected ecosystem stretching from central Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, USA. Current system-scale restoration efforts aim to restore natural hydrologic regimes to reestablish pre-drainage ecosystem functioning through increased water availability, quality and timing. Aquatic transport of carbon in this ecosystem, primarily as dissolved organic carbon (DOC), plays a critical role in biogeochemical cycling and food-web dynamics, and will be affected both by water management policies and climate change. To better understand DOC dynamics in South Florida estuaries and how hydrology, climate and water management may affect them, 14 years of monthly data collected in the Shark River estuary were used to examine DOC flux dynamics in a broader environmental context. Multivariate statistical methods were applied to long-term datasets for hydrology, water quality and climate to untangle the interconnected environmental drivers that control DOC export at monthly and annual scales. DOC fluxes were determined to be primarily controlled by hydrology but also by seasonality and long-term climate patterns and episodic weather events. A four-component model (salinity, rainfall, inflow, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) capable of predicting DOC fluxes (R2 = 0.84, p < 0.0001, n = 155) was established and applied to potential climate change scenarios for the Everglades to assess DOC flux response to climate and restoration variables. The majority of scenario runs indicated that DOC export from the Everglades is expected to decrease due to future changes in rainfall, water management and salinity.



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 #DEB-1237517, #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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