|Taking a porewater sampling at a Shark River Slough mangrove site
FCE researchers are investigating how the variability in delivery of marine supplies of saltwater and nutrients, and their interaction with fresh water supplies from upstream, control ecosystem structure and function across the coastal gradient. They have discovered that marine supplies are naturally-enriched in phosphorus relative to fresh water sources, and that surface and groundwater sources stimulate production in the estuarine ecotone in the Shark and Taylor River drainages, respectively. In Phase III of the FCE-LTER project, scientists are studying how these water sources influence microbial communities, which, in turn, alter carbon storage and nutrient cycling in water and soils in the estuarine ecotone.
Photo by Teresa Casal
How do these factors affect people in south Florida?
The Everglades ecosystem and the services it provides as the largest freshwater wetland in the U.S. help to maintain the environment and the economy of south Florida. Our work shows how the ecosystem may respond to changes in the availability of nutrients in ways that might alter its ability to continue providing those services, such as the accumulation of peat soils that help buffer South Florida from storms.