FCE LTER Journal Articles


Biogeochemical Contributions of Tree Islands to Everglades Wetland Landscape Nitrogen Cycling During Seasonal Inundation


In the Florida Everglades, tree islands are conspicuous heterogeneous elements in the herbaceous wetland landscape. We characterized the biogeochemical role of a seasonally flooded tree island during wet season inundation, specifically examining hydrologically mediated flows of nitrogen (N) and N retention by the tree island. We estimated ecosystem N standing stocks and fluxes, soil and litter N transformation rates, and hydrologic fluxes of N to quantify the net ecosystem N mass flux. Results showed that hydrologic sources of N were dominated by surface water loads of nitrate (NO3) and ammonium (NH4). Nitrate immobilization by soils and surficial leaf litter was an important sink for surface water dissolved inorganic N (DIN). We estimated that the net annual DIN retention by a seasonally flooded tree island was 20.5 ± 5.0 g m−2 during wet season inundation. Based on the estimated tree island surface water DIN loading rate, a seasonally flooded tree island retained 76% of imported DIN. As such, seasonally flooded tree islands have the potential to retain 55% of DIN entering the marsh landscape via upstream canal overland flow in the wet season. By increasing reactive surface area and DOC availability, we suggest that tree islands promote convergence of elements that enhance DIN retention. Tree islands of this region are thus important components of landscape-scale restoration efforts that seek to reduce sources of anthropogenic DIN to downstream estuaries.


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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