FCE research focuses on an area where freshwater and estuarine vegetation mix, or
the "oligohaline ecotone". FCE
researchers study how hydrology, climate, and human activities affect ecosystem and
population dynamics in the ecotone and more broadly, the Florida Coastal Everglades.
Unique Nutrient SourcesFCE scientists discovered that, unlike in most coastal areas, the natural source of phosphorus (the nutrient that limits ecosystem productivity) for coastal Caribbean estuaries is seawater, not inland environments. This important finding has ramifications for both restoration and conservation and is informing decision making in coastal areas.
Food WebsFCE scientists discovered that decomposing plant material, rather than the plants themselves, supports the freshwater food web. When exported to coastal waters, this material also supports substantial marine plant and animal life.
Productivity Gradients in MangrovesFCE researchers have found significant spatial differences in mangrove productivity; from riverine mangrove forests with productivity rates similar to tropical rain forests to low structure scrub mangroves that grow in nutrient-poor environments. Mangrove forests growth and survival are greatly influenced by the impacts and legacies of hurricanes, sea-level rise, and human impacts along coastal areas.
Blue Carbon Stored in SeagrassLTER researchers have found that seagrass ecosystems remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in below-ground soils. If seagrass ecosystems continue to be lost due to nutrient enrichment, coastline modifications and sea level rise, a globally significant amount of carbon could be lost to the atmosphere.
Drought and Carbon LossMarshes typically absorb more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than they release, making them net sinks for carbon dioxide. FCE studies of carbon dynamics that included extended dry periods indicated an increase in carbon losses and alterations in greenhouse carbon balance (amount of CO2 sequestered/CH4 released). Anticipated increases in dry season duration driven by reduced water availability can switch the marsh from a carbon sink to a source, increasing contributions to atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Florida Coastal Everglades research on how extreme climate events impact the Common Snook in the Everglades National Park was published in Global Change Biology and
featured in FIU News and
NSF News on World Oceans Day (June 8, 2017).
2017 Florida Coastal Everglades LTER All Scientists Meeting
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science
Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under
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
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