Investigating how phosphorus controls structure and function in two Everglades wetland plant communities

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Daniel L. Childers

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Joel C. Trexler

Third Advisor's Name

James W. Fourqurean

Date of Defense



Recent anthropogenic activity in south Florida has increased inputs of phosphorus being delivered to the historically oligotrophic Everglades. Consequently, understanding how phosphorus structures these wetlands is critical. I investigated this with both indirect, correlative techniques and direct, experimental manipulation in two community types: sawgrass and wet prairie. Composition, abundance and productivity in the sawgrass community is most likely controlled primarily by P-availability. In contrast, controls of structure in the wet prairie seem to vary among species and include both P-availability and hydrologic regime. These two communities also respond differently to nutrient enrichment. While the sawgrass community appears to store newly available P in the form of increased production, the wet prairie seems to rapidly recycle P through increases in aboveground turnover rates. As part of my research, a nondestructive technique which accurately estimates aboveground live standing crop in eight common Everglades species was developed.



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