FCE LTER Journal Articles


The role of recharge and evapotranspiration as hydraulic drivers of ion concentrations in shallow groundwater on Everglades tree islands, Florida (USA)


Recently, evapotranspiration has been hypothesized to promote the secondary formation of calcium carbonate year-round on tree islands in the Everglades by influencing groundwater ions concentrations. However, the role of recharge and evapotranspiration as drivers of shallow groundwater ion accumulation has not been investigated. The goal of this study is to develop a hydrologic model that predicts the chloride concentrations of shallow tree island groundwater and to determine the influence of overlying biomass and underlying geologic material on these concentrations. Groundwater and surface water levels and chloride concentrations were monitored on eight constructed tree islands at the Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment (LILA) from 2007 to 2010. The tree islands at LILA were constructed predominately of peat, or of peat and limestone, and were planted with saplings of native tree species in 2006 and 2007. The model predicted low shallow groundwater chloride concentrations when inputs of regional groundwater and evapotranspiration-to-recharge rates were elevated, while low evapotranspiration-to-recharge rates resulted in a substantial increase of the chloride concentrations of the shallow groundwater. Modeling results indicated that evapotranspiration typically exceeded recharge on the older tree islands and those with a limestone lithology, which resulted in greater inputs of regional groundwater. A sensitivity analysis indicated the shallow groundwater chloride concentrations were most sensitive to alterations in specific yield during the wet season and hydraulic conductivity in the dry season. In conclusion, the inputs of rainfall, underlying hydrologic properties of tree islands sediments and forest structure may explain the variation in ion concentration seen across Everglades tree islands.


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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