Trajectories of Vegetation Response to Water Management in Taylor Slough, Everglades National Park, Florida
Ecosystem management practices that modify the major drivers and stressors of an ecosystem often lead to changes in plant community composition. This paper examines how closely the trajectory of vegetation change in seasonally-flooded wetlands tracks management-induced alterations in hydrology and soil characteristics. We used trajectory analysis, a multivariate method designed to test hypotheses about rates and directions of community change, to examine vegetation shifts in response to changes in water management practices within the Taylor Slough basin of Everglades National Park. We summarized vegetation data by non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination, and examined the time trajectory of each site along environmental vectors representing hydrology and soil phosphorus gradients. In the Taylor Slough basin, vegetation change trajectories closely followed the hydrologic changes caused by the operation of water pumps and detention ponds adjacent to the canals. We also observed a shift in vegetation composition along a vector of increasing soil phosphorus, which suggests the need for implementing measures to avoid P-enrichment in southern Everglades marl prairies. This study indicates that shifts in vegetation composition in response to changes in hydrologic conditions and associated parameters may be detected through trajectory analysis, thereby providing feedback for adaptive management of wetland ecosystems.
Sah, J.P., M.S. Ross, S. Saha, P.R. Minchin, J. Sadle. 2013. Trajectories of Vegetation Response to Water Management in Taylor Slough, Everglades National Park, Florida. Wetlands DOI: 10.1007/s13157-013-0390-4