FCE LTER Journal Articles


Carbon isotopic composition of cypress trees from South Florida and changing hydrologic condition


δ13C values were determined from cypresstree rings from two different study areas in SouthFlorida. One site is located in the Southeastern Everglades Marsh, where pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) was sampled from tree islands (annual tree rings from 1970 to 2000). Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) trees were sampled at the other site, located along the Loxahatchee River in a coastal wetland (decadal tree rings from 1830 to 1990). The isotopic time series from both sites display different, location-specific information. The pond cypressisotopic time series has a positive correlation with the total amount of annual precipitation, while the bald cypress data from the Loxahatchee River study area had two different records dependent on the level of saltwater stress. In general, for terrestrial trees growing in a temperate environment, water stress causes an increase in water-use efficiency (WUE) resulting in a relative 13C enrichment. Yet, trees growing in wetland settings in some cases do not respond in the same manner. We propose a conceptual model based on changes in carbon assimilation and isotopic fractionation as controlled by differences in stomatal resistance (water stress) and mesophyll resistance (biochemical and nutrient related) to explain the isotopic records from both sites. With further work and a longer time series, our approach may be tested, and used to reconstruct change in hydroperiods further back in time, and potentially provide a baseline for wetland restoration.


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.

This document is currently not available here.