FCE LTER Journal Articles

Title

Using Florida Keys Reference Sites As a Standard for Restoration of Forest Structure in Everglades Tree Islands

Abstract

In south Florida, tropical hardwood forests (hammocks) occur in Everglades tree islands and as more extensive forests in coastal settings in the nearby Florida Keys. Keys hammocks have been less disturbed by humans, and many qualify as “old-growth,” while Everglades hammocks have received much heavier use. With improvement of tree island condition an important element in Everglades restoration efforts, we examined stand structure in 23 Keys hammocks and 69 Everglades tree islands. Based on Stand Density Index and tree diameter distributions, many Everglades hammocks were characterized by low stocking and under-representation in the smaller size classes. In contrast, most Keys forests had the dense canopies and open understories usually associated with old-growth hardwood hammocks. Subject to the same caveats that apply to off-site references elsewhere, structural information from mature Keys hammocks can be helpful in planning and implementing forest restoration in Everglades tree islands. In many of these islands, such restoration might involve supplementing tree stocking by planting native trees to produce more complete site utilization and a more open understory.

Comments

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.