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The work on CERP monitoring item (Marl prairie/slough gradients) is being conducted by Florida International University (Dr Michael Ross, Project Leader), with Everglades National Park (Dr. Craig Smith) providing administrative support and technical consultation. As of January 2006 the funds transferred by ACOE to ENP, and subsequently to FIU, have been entirely expended or encumbered in salaries or wages. The project work for 2005 started rather late in the fiscal year, but ultimately accomplished the Year 1 goals of securing a permit to conduct the research in Everglades National Park, finalizing a detailed scope of work, and sampling marsh sites which are most easily accessed during the wet season. 46 plots were sampled in detail, and a preliminary vegetation classification distinguished three groups among these sites (Sawgrass marsh, sawgrass and other, and slough) which may be arranged roughly along a hydrologic gradient from least to most persistently inundated . We also made coarser observations of vegetation type at 5-m intervals along 2 transects totaling ~ 5 km. When these data were compared with similar observations made in 1998-99, it appeared that vegetation in the western portion of Northeast Shark Slough (immediately east of the L-67 extension) had shifted toward a more hydric type during the last 6 years, while vegetation further east was unchanged in this respect. Because this classification and trend analysis is based on a small fraction of the data set that will be available after the first cycle of sampling (3 years from now), the results should not be interpreted too expansively. However, they do demonstrate the potential for gaining a more comprehensive view of marsh vegetation structure and dynamics in the Everglades, and will provide a sound basis for adaptive management.


A report from the South Florida Terrestrial Ecosystems Lab (SOFTEL).