, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 157–173 | Cite as

Diatom-based Models for Inferring Hydrology and Periphyton Abundance in a Subtropical Karstic Wetland: Implications for Ecosystem-Scale Bioassessment

  • Sylvia S. Lee
  • Evelyn E. Gaiser
  • Joel C. Trexler


We developed diatom-based prediction models of hydrology and periphyton abundance to inform assessment tools for a hydrologically managed wetland. Because hydrology is an important driver of ecosystem change, hydrologic alterations by restoration efforts could modify biological responses, such as periphyton characteristics. In karstic wetlands, diatoms are particularly important components of mat-forming calcareous periphyton assemblages that both respond and contribute to the structural organization and function of the periphyton matrix. We examined the distribution of diatoms across the Florida Everglades landscape and found hydroperiod and periphyton biovolume were strongly correlated with assemblage composition. We present species optima and tolerances for hydroperiod and periphyton biovolume, for use in interpreting the directionality of change in these important variables. Predictions of these variables were mapped to visualize landscape-scale spatial patterns in a dominant driver of change in this ecosystem (hydroperiod) and an ecosystem-level response metric of hydrologic change (periphyton biovolume). Specific diatom assemblages inhabiting periphyton mats of differing abundance can be used to infer past conditions and inform management decisions based on how assemblages are changing. This study captures diatom responses to wide gradients of hydrology and periphyton characteristics to inform ecosystem-scale bioassessment efforts in a large wetland.


Restoration Bioassessment Diatoms Hydroperiod Biovolume Periphyton Everglades 



This research was funded by the South Florida Water Management District (Contract 4600001083 with Florida International University). Data analysis by S.S.L. was funded by the Everglades Foundation Fellowship. We thank T. Robertson, F. Tobias, A. Wachnicka, and C. Taylor for field assistance. S.S.L. thanks P. Minchin for providing the DECODA program and instructions, J. LaHée and A. Wachnicka for statistical assistance, and R. Rivero and E. Rosi-Marshall for initial encouragement and guidance. We thank the two anonymous reviewers, M. Edlund, J. Richards, and the Periphyton Lab for providing comments to improve the manuscript. This material was developed in collaboration with the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under National Science Foundation Grant No. DBI-0620409. This is contribution number 589 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University.

Supplementary material

13157_2012_363_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (124 kb)
ESM 1 List of sampling locations (UTMs) and corresponding measurements of habitat characteristics. Includes metadata. (PDF 124 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvia S. Lee
    • 1
  • Evelyn E. Gaiser
    • 1
  • Joel C. Trexler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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