FCE LTER Journal Articles


Sediment and Nutrient Deposition Associated with Hurricane Wilma in Mangroves of the Florida Coastal Everglades


The distribution of mangrove biomass and forest structure along Shark River estuary in the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) has been correlated with elevated total phosphorus concentration in soils thought to be associated with storm events. The passage of Hurricane Wilma across Shark River estuary in 2005 allowed us to quantify sediment deposition and nutrient inputs in FCE mangrove forests associated with this storm event and to evaluate whether these pulsing events are sufficient to regulate nutrient biogeochemistry in mangrove forests of south Florida. We sampled the spatial pattern of sediment deposits and their chemical properties in mangrove forests along FCE sites in December 2005 and October 2006. The thickness (0.5 to 4.5 cm) of hurricane sediment deposits decreased with distance inland at each site. Bulk density, organic matter content, total nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations, and inorganic and organic P pools of hurricane sediment deposits differed from surface (0–10 cm) mangrove soils at each site. Vertical accretion resulting from this hurricane event was eight to 17 times greater than the annual accretion rate (0.30± 0.03 cm year−1) averaged over the last 50 years. Total P inputs from storm-derived sediments were equivalent to twice the average surface soil nutrient P density (0.19 mg cm−3). In contrast, total N inputs contributed 0.8 times the average soil nutrient N density (2.8 mg cm−3). Allochthonous mineral inputs from Hurricane Wilma represent a significant source of sediment to soil vertical accretion rates and nutrient resources in mangroves of southwestern Everglades. The gradient in total P deposition to mangrove soils from west to east direction across the FCE associated with this storm event is particularly significant to forest development due to the P-limited condition of this carbonate ecosystem. This source of P may be an important adaptation of mangrove forests in the Caribbean region to projected impacts of sea-level rise.


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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