Trees: a powerful geomorphic agent governing the landscape evolution of a subtropical wetland
- 270 Downloads
Transpiration-driven ion accumulation in soil has been invoked as a biological and physical feedback mechanism in wetlands that governs topographic differences by regulating soil accretion—with greater transpiration, ion accumulation and soil accretion occurring on tree islands as compared to the surrounding marsh. The strength of this mechanism is hypothesized to be controlled by the ratio of evapotranspiration (ET) to precipitation (P), where under greater ET to P conditions soil accretion may move from organic to mineral in nature. We tested the existence of this mechanism on tree islands in a subtropical wetland, determined if it supports mineral soil formation, and assessed its control on the development of nutrient resource contrasts (tree islands–marsh). To test our hypotheses, biannual measurements of groundwater, surface water and aboveground biomass were made from 2007 to 2012. Water samples were analyzed for water isotopes, concentrations of major ions, and total and dissolved nutrients on constructed tree islands. We found that tree transpiration led to the advective movement of water and associated ions toward the center of the tree islands, supporting CaCO3 precipitation. CaCO3 accretion on the tree islands was estimated at roughly 1 mm per decade, and represented 5 % of the total soil accretion since the islands’ planting. We also observed depletion in groundwater nutrient concentrations as tree biomass accumulated, indicative of tight nutrient cycling. This work provides direct evidence that trees can act as powerful geomorphic agents in wetland systems, forming mineral soils that support landscape heterogeneity on time scales of centuries to millennia.
KeywordsWeathering Soil formation Tree islands Plant-groundwater–surface water interactions Everglades
The South Florida Water Management District provided support for this research, with additional support from the Everglades Foundation, the Southeast Environmental Research Center and the Dissertation Year Fellowship at Florida International University. National Science Foundation’s Grant No. DBI-0620409 and the NASA WaterSCAPES Project supported a portion of Dr. Price’s time. We thank the following individuals for their help in the field: Ryan Desliu, Jeremy Stalker, Xavier Zapata, Estefania Sandoval and David Lagomasino. We also thank Drs. Sharon Billings and Gwendolyn Macpherson for comments on the manuscript. This is SERC Contribution No. 789.
- Aich S, Dreschel TW, Cline EA, Sklar FH (2011) The development of a geographic information system (GIS) to document research in an Everglades Physical Model. J Environ Sci Eng 5:289–302Google Scholar
- Chmura GL, Graf MT (2011) The human trigger for development of tree islands in the Florida Everglades. In: American Geophysical Union (AGU)-Chapman conference on climates, past landscapes, and civilizations. Santa Fe, NM. AGU Release No. 11–12. March 21Google Scholar
- Monger HC, Gallegos RA (2000) Biotic and abiotic processes and rates of pedogenic carbonate accumulation in the southwestern United States—relationship to atmospheric CO2 sequestration. In: Lal R, Kimble JM, Eswaran H, Steward BA (eds) Global climate change and pedogenic carbonates. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, pp 273–289Google Scholar
- Parkhurst DL, Appello CAJ (1999) User’s guide to PHREEQC (version 2)—a computer program for speciation, batch-reaction, one-dimensional transport, and inverse geochemical calculations. US Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations. Report 99-4259Google Scholar
- Schlesinger W (1997) Biogeochemistry. An analysis of global change. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
- Schwadron M (2006) Everglades tree islands prehistory: archeological evidence for regional Holocene variability and early human settlement. Antiquity 80(310):1–6Google Scholar
- Stoffella SL, Ross MS, Sah J, Ruiz P, Lopez L, Colbert N, Dodge C, Heinrich J, Trujillo D (2009) Estimating biomass production and nutrient concentrations of tree species growing along hydrologic gradient on LILA tree islands biomass estimation. Report to the South Florida Water Management District, p 12Google Scholar
- Subedi SC (2011) Determination of nutrient limitation on trees growing in Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment (LILA) tree islands, Florida. Thesis. Florida International UniversityGoogle Scholar
- Sullivan PL, Price RM, Miralles-Wilhelm F, Ross MS, Scinto LJ, Dreschel TW, Sklar F, Cline E (2014b) The role of recharge and evapotranspiration as hydraulic drivers of ion concentrations in shallow groundwater on Everglades tree islands, Florida (USA). Hydrol Process. doi: 10.1005/hyp.9575 Google Scholar