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Vegetation Dynamics in Land-Margin Ecosystems: The Mangroves of South Florida

photo of a channel through mangroves
Project Investigator: Thomas J. Smith III

Project Personnel: Gordon Anderson, Kevin Whelan, Christa Walker

Project Start Date: 2002 End Date: 2003


The objectives of the project are to provide answers to how the hydrologic restoration of the Everglades will affect land margin ecosystems and to generate data to be used in models (hydrological and ecological) for gauging restoration success.

For more information, please see the Tides and Inflows in the Mangrove Ecotone (TIME) Model Development Project Webpage.

Please note: This project is now part of the "Dynamics of Land Margin Ecosystems: Historical Change, Hydrology, Vegetation, Sediment, and Climate" project.

Land-margin ecosystems (mangroves, brackish marshes and coastal lakes / back bays) comprise some 40% of Everglades NP. Primary production in these ecosystems fuels the detrital foodweb, which supports sport and commercial fisheries and numerous endangered species (e.g., manatee, wood stork, roseate spoonbill). Freshwater inflow is critical in regulating the salinity and nutrient regimes of these systems and thus their productivity. In August 1992, the land-margin systems of south Florida were severely damaged by Hurricane Andrew. A great potential exists for water management (i.e., regulation of freshwater inflow) to impact the natural recovery processes currently underway.

The research discussed here asks several questions related to how the hydrologic restoration of the Everglades will affect land margin ecosystems, including: 1) How does freshwater inflow regulate primary productivity? 2) How does freshwater inflow interact with other factors (nutrients, soil type) to influence primary productivity? 3) Is there an affect of freshwater inflow on recovery from natural disturbance in these ecosystems? 4) Does freshwater inflow influence below-ground production, peat formation and soil accretion in mangroves? 5) Will the position of the mangrove / marsh ecotone respond to upstream water management? 6) What non-hydrological factors influence the position of the mangrove / marsh ecotone (e.g., soil type and depth, nutrients, fire)?

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Script last updated: 23 October 2018 @ 12:03 PM by THF. Record creator: BJM. Record last updated by: LJT.