Questions: How are the early survival and growth of seedlings of Everglades tree species planted in an experimental setting on artificial tree islands affected by hydrology and substrate type? What are the implications of these responses for broader tree island restoration efforts?
Location: Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment (LILA), Boynton Beach, Florida, USA.
Methods: An experiment was designed to test hydrological and substrate effects on seedling growth and survivorship. Two islands – a peat and a limestone-core island representing two major types found in the Everglades – were constructed in four macrocosms. A mixture of eight tree species was planted on each island in March of 2006 and 2007. Survival and height growth of seedlings planted in 2006 were assessed periodically during the next two and a half years.
Results: Survival and growth improved with increasing elevation on both tree island substrate types. Seedlings' survival and growth responses along a moisture gradient matched species distributions along natural hydrological gradients in the Everglades. The effect of substrate on seedling performance showed higher survival of most species on the limestone tree islands, and faster growth on their peat-based counterparts.
Conclusions: The present results could have profound implications for restoration of forests on existing landforms and artificial creation of tree islands. Knowledge of species tolerance to flooding and responses to different edaphic conditions present in wetlands is important in selecting suitable species to plant on restored tree islands
Stoffella, S., M.S. Ross, J.P. Sah, R.M. Price, P. Sullivan, E. Cline, L.J. Scinto. 2010. Survival and growth responses of eight Everglades tree species along an experimental hydrological gradient on two tree island types. Applied Vegetation Science 13(4): 439-449.