, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 81–93 | Cite as

Quantitative Comparison of Plant Community Hydrology Using Large-Extent, Long-Term Data

  • Daniel Gann
  • Jennifer Richards
Original Research


Large-extent vegetation datasets that co-occur with long-term hydrology data provide new ways to develop biologically meaningful hydrologic variables and to determine plant community responses to hydrology. We analyzed the suitability of different hydrological variables to predict vegetation in two water conservation areas (WCAs) in the Florida Everglades, USA, and developed metrics to define realized hydrologic optima and tolerances. Using vegetation data spatially co-located with long-term hydrological records, we evaluated seven variables describing water depth, hydroperiod length, and number of wet/dry events; each variable was tested for 2-, 4- and 10-year intervals for Julian annual averages and environmentally-defined hydrologic intervals. Maximum length and maximum water depth during the wet period calculated for environmentally-defined hydrologic intervals over a 4-year period were the best predictors of vegetation type. Proportional abundance of vegetation types along hydrological gradients indicated that communities had different realized optima and tolerances across WCAs. Although in both WCAs, the trees/shrubs class was on the drier/shallower end of hydrological gradients, while slough communities occupied the wetter/deeper end, the distribution of Cladium, Typha, wet prairie and Salix communities, which were intermediate for most hydrological variables, varied in proportional abundance along hydrologic gradients between WCAs, indicating that realized optima and tolerances are context-dependent.


Conditional density estimates EDEN Everglades Hydrological gradients Hydroperiod Random forest classifier Realized optima and tolerances Water depth Wetland vegetation 



We thank A. Gottlieb, who set us thinking about vegetation hydrological optima and tolerances in the context of Everglades restoration. The South Florida Water Management District (P.O. #4500033517) supported our initial work on plant community hydrology in WCA 2A. This is contribution number 698 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GISRS-CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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