Wetlands

, 25:832 | Cite as

A conceptual model of ecological interactions in the mangrove estuaries of the Florida Everglades

  • Steven M. Davis
  • Daniel L. Childers
  • Jerome J. Lorenz
  • Harold R. Wanless
  • Todd E. Hopkins
Article

Abstract

A brackish water ecotone of coastal bays and lakes, mangrove forests, salt marshes, tidal creeks, and upland hammocks separates Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico from the freshwater Everglades. The Everglades mangrove estuaries are characterized by salinity gradients that vary spatially with topography and vary seasonally and inter-annually with rainfall, tide, and freshwater flow from the Everglades. Because of their location at the lower end of the Everglades drainage basin, Everglades mangrove estuaries have been affected by upstream water management practices that have altered the freshwater heads and flows and that affect salinity gradients. Additionally, interannual variation in precipitation patterns, particularly those caused to El Niño events, control freshwater inputs and salinity dynamics in these estuaries. Two major external drivers on this system are water management activities and global climate change. These drivers lead to two major ecosystem stressors: reduced freshwater flow volume and duration, and sea-level rise. Major ecological attributes include mangrove forest production, soil accretion, and resilience; coastal lake submerged aquatic vegetation; resident mangrove fish populations; wood stork (Mycteria americana) and roseate spoonbill (Platelea ajaja) nesting colonies; and estuarine crocodilian populations. Causal linkages between stressors and attributes include coastal transgression, hydroperiods, salinity gradients, and the “white zone” freshwater/estuarine interface. The functional estuary and its ecological attributes, as influenced by sea level and freshwater flow, must be viewed as spatially dynamic, with a possible near-term balancing of transgression but ultimately a long-term continuation of inland movement. Regardless of the spatio-temporal timing of this transgression, a salinity gradient supportive of ecologically functional Everglades mangrove estuaries will be required to maintain the integrity of the South Florida ecosystem.

Key Words

Everglades South Florida ecosystem restoration conceptual ecological model mangrove forest tidal creeks estuaries salinity gradients water management sea-level rise estuarine geomorphology fish communities wood stork roseate spoonbill American crocodile 

Literature Cited

  1. Allen, R. P. 1942. The Roseate Spoonbill. Dover Publications, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  2. Armentano, T. V., R. F. Doren, W. J. Platt, and T. Mullins. 1995. Effects of Hurricane Andrew on coastal and interior forests of southern Florida: overview and synthesis. Journal of Coastal Research Special Issue 2: 111–114.Google Scholar
  3. Bjork, R. D. and G. V. N. Powell. 1994. Relations between hydrologic conditions and quality and quantity of foraging habitat for roseate spoonbills and other wading bird in the C-111 basin. National Audubon Society final report to South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  4. Cahoon, D. R. and J. C. Lynch. 1997. Vertical accretion and shallow subsidence in a mangrove forest of southwestern Florida, USA. Mangroves and Salt Marshes 1: 173–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carter, R. W. G. 1988. Coastal Environments. Academic, London, UK.Google Scholar
  6. Chen, R. and R. R. Twilley. 1999. Patterns of mangrove forest structure and soil nutrient dynamics along the Shark River Estuary, Florida. Estuaries 22: 955–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Childers, D. L., J. N. Boyer, J. W. Fourqurean, R. Jaffe, R. D. Jones, and J. Trexler. 1999. Coastal oligotrophic ecosystems research—the coastal Everglades. Regional controls of population and ecosystem dynamics in an oligotrophic wetland-dominated coastal landscape. A research proposal to the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) in Land/Ocean Margin Ecosystems, National Science Foundation, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  8. Childers, D. L., J. N. Boyer, S. E. III. Davis, C. J. Madden, D. T. Rudnick, and F. H. Sklar. 2005. Nutrient concentration patterns in the oligotrophic “upside-down” estuaries of the Florida Everglades. Limnology & Oceanography (in press).Google Scholar
  9. Craighead, F. C. 1968. The role of the alligator in shaping plant communities and maintaining wildlife in the southern Everglades. Florida Naturalist 41: 2–7, 69–74, 94.Google Scholar
  10. Craighead, F. C. 1971. The Trees of South Florida. University of Miami Press, Miami, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  11. Craighead, F. C., Sr. and V. C. Gilbert. 1962. The effects of Hurricane Donna on the vegetation of southern Florida. The Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 25: 1–28.Google Scholar
  12. Davis, S. E., J. E. Cable, D. L. Childers, C. Coronado-Molina, J. W. Day, C. D. Hittle, C. J. Madden, D. T. Rudnick, E. Reyes, and F. H. Sklar. 2004. Importance of episodic storm events in controlling ecosystem structure and function in a Gulf Coast estuary. Journal of Coastal Restoration 20: 1198–1208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davis, S. E. III, D. L. Childers, J. W. Day, Jr., D. T. Rudnick, and F. H. Sklar. 2001a. Wetland-water column exchanges of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in a Southern Everglades dwarf mangrove. Estuaries 24: 610–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis, S. E. III, D. L. Childers, J. W. Day, Jr., D. T. Rudnick, and F. H. Sklar. 2001b. Nutrient dynamics in vegetated and unvegetated areas of a southern Everglades mangrove creek. Estuarine Coastal Shelf Science 52: 753–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davis, S. E. III, D. L. Childers, J. W. Day, Jr., D. T. Rudnick, and F. H. Sklar. 2003. Factors affecting the concentration and flux of materials in two southern Everglades mangrove wetlands. Marine Ecology Progress Series 253: 85–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dumas, J. 2000. Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaia). In A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.) The Birds of North America. The Academy of Natural Science, Philidelphia, PA, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Dunson, W. A. and F. J. Mazzotti. 1989. Salinity as a limiting factor in the distribution of reptiles in Florida Bay: a theory for the estuarine origin of marine snakes and turtles. Bulletin of Marine Sciences 44: 229–244.Google Scholar
  18. Egler, F. E. 1952. Southeast saline Everglades vegetation, Florida, and its management. Vegetation 3: 213–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jacobsen, T. 1983. Crocodilians and islands: status of the American alligator and the American crocodile in the lower Florida Keys. Florida Field Naturalist 11: 1–24.Google Scholar
  20. Joanen, T. 1969. Nesting ecology of the alligators in Louisiana. Proceedings of the Annual Conference Southeast Association of Game Fish Commission 23: 141–151.Google Scholar
  21. Koch, M. S. 1997. Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) seedling development into the sapling stage across resource and stress gradients in subtropical Florida. Biotropica 29: 427–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Koch, M. S. and S. C. Snedaker. 1997. Factore influencing Rhizophora mangle L. seedling development in Everglades carbonate soils. Aquatic Botany 59: 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Krauss, K. W., J. A. Allen, and D. R. Cahoon. 2003. Differential vertical accretion and elevation change among aerial root type mangrove forests. Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science 56: 251–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kushlan, J. D., O. L. Bass Jr., and L. C. McEwan. 1982. Wintering waterfowl in Everglades National Park. Everglades National Park, South Florida Research Center, Homestead, FL, USA. Report T-670.Google Scholar
  25. Lauren, D. J. 1985. The effect of chronic saline exposure on the electrolyte balance, nitrogen metabolism, and corticosterone titer in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis. Comprehensive Biochemical Physiololgy 81A: 217–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lorenz, J. J. 1997. The effects of hydrology on resident fishes of the Everglades mangrove zone. National Audubon Society Final Report to South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  27. Lorenz, J. J. 1999. The response of fishes to physical-chemical changes in the mangroves of northeast Florida Bay. Estuaries 22: 500–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lorenz, J. J. 2000. The impact of water management on roseate spoonbills and their piscine prey in the coastal wetlands of Florida Bay. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  29. Lorenz, J. J., J. C. Ogden, R. D. Bjork, and G. V. N. Powell. 2002. Nesting patterns of Roseate Spoonbills in Florida Bay 1935–1999: implications of landscape scale anthropogenic impacts. p. 555–598. In J. W. Porter and K. G. Porter (eds.) The Everglades, Florida Bay and Coral Reefs of the Florida Keys, an Ecosystem Sourcebook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL:555–598.Google Scholar
  30. Mazzotti, F. J. 1983. The ecology of Crocodylus acutus in Florida. Ph.D. Dissertation. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Mazzotti, F. J. 1989. Factors affecting nesting success of the American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, in Florida Bay. Bulletin of Marine Sciences 44: 220–228.Google Scholar
  32. Mazzotti, F. J., A. Dunbar-Cooper, and J. A. Kushlan. 1988. Desiccation and cryptic nest flooding as probable causes of embryonic mortality in the American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, in Everglades National Park, Florida. Florida Scientist 52: 65–72.Google Scholar
  33. Mazzotti, F. J. and W. A. Dunson. 1984. Adaptations of Crocodylus acutus and alligator for life in saline water. Comprehensive Biochemical Physiololgy 79A: 641–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mazzotti, F. J. and W. A. Dunson. 1989. Osmoregulation in crocodilians. American Zoology 29: 903–920.Google Scholar
  35. McIvor, C. C., J. A. Ley, and R. D. Bjork. 1994. Changes in freshwater inflow from the Everglades to Florida Bay including effects on biota and biotic processes. p. 117–146. In S. M. Davis and J. C. Ogden (eds.) Everglades, the Ecosystem and its Restoration. St. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  36. Meeder, J. F., M. S. Ross, G. Telesnicki, P. L. Ruiz, and J. P. Sah. 1996. Vegetation analysis in the C-111/Taylor Slough basin. Document 1: The southeast saline Everglades revisited: a half-century of coastal vegetation change. Document 2: Marine transgression in the southeast saline Everglades, Florida: rates, causes and plant sediment responses. Southeast Environmental Research Program, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA. Final report for Contract C-4244.Google Scholar
  37. Moler, P. E. 1991. American crocodile population dynamics. Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, Tallahassee, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  38. Montague, C. L. and R. G. Wiegert. 1990. Salt marshes. In R. L. Myers and J. J. Ewel (eds.) Ecosystems of Florida. University of Central Florida Press, Orlando, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  39. Morrison, D. and D. L. Bean. 1997. Benthic macrophyte and invertebrate distribution and seasonally in the Everglades-Florida Bay ecotone. National Audubon Society Final Report to South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  40. Noe, G., D. L. Childers, and R. D. Jones. 2001. Phosphorus biogeochemistry and the impacts of phosphorus enrichment: why are the Everglades so unique? Ecosystems 4: 603–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ogden, J. C. 1976. Crocodilian ecology in southern Florida. In National Park Service. Research in the Parks: Transactions of the National Park Centennial Symposium, 1971. United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Washington, DC, USA. Symposium Series No. 1.Google Scholar
  42. Ogden, J. C. 1994. A comparison of wading bird nesting colony dynamics (1931–1946 and 1974–1989) as an indication of ecosystem conditions in the southern Everglades. p. 533–570. In S. M. Davis and J. C. Ogden (eds.) Everglades: the Ecosystem and Its Restoration. St. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  43. Ogden, J. C., J. A. Kushlan, and J. A. Tilmont. 1978. The food habits and nesting success of wood storks in the Everglades National Park in 1974. United States National Park Service, Washington, DC, USA. Natural Resources Report 16.Google Scholar
  44. Powell, G. V. N. and R. D. Bjork. 1990. Relationships between hydrologic conditions and quality and quantity of foraging habitat for roseate spoonbills and other wading birds in the C-111 basin. National Audubon Society second annual report to South Florida Research Center, Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  45. Powell, G. V. N., R. D. Bjork, J. C. Ogden, R. T. Paul, A. H. Powell, and W. B. Robertson, Jr. 1989. Population trends of some South Florida wading birds. Wilson Bulletin 101: 436–457.Google Scholar
  46. Ross, M. S., E. E. Gaiser, J. F. Meeder, and M. T. Lewin. 2002. Multi-taxon analysis of the “white zone”: A common ecotonal feature of the South Florida coastal wetlands. p. 205–238. In J. W. Porter and K. G. Porter (eds.) The Everglades, Florida Bay, and Coral Reefs of the Florida Keys: an Ecosystem Sourcebook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  47. Ross, M. S., E. E. Gaiser, J. F. Meeder, and M. T. Lewin. 2002. Multi-taxon analysis of the “White Zone,” a common ecotonal feature of South Florida coastal wetlands. p. 205–238. In J. W. Porter and K. G. Porter (eds.) Everglades, Florida Bay, and Coral Reefs of the Florida Keys. CRC Press, Delray Beach, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  48. Ross, M. S., J. F. Meeder, J. P. Sah, P. L. Ruiz, and G. J. Telesnicki. 2000. The southeast saline Everglades revisited: 50 years of coastal vegetation change. Journal of Vegetation Science 11: 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rudnick, D. T., Z. Chen, D. L. Childers, J. N. Boyer, and T. D. Fontaine. 1999. Phosphorus and nitrogen inputs in Florida Bay: the importance of the Everglades watershed. Estuaries 22: 398–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Smith, T. J. III, M. B. Robblee, R. Wanless, and T. W. Doyle. 1994. Mangroves, hurricanes, and lightning strikes. Bioscience 44: 256–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sutula, M., B. Perez, E. Reyes, D. Childers, S. Davis, J. Day, D. Rudnick, and F. Sklar. 2003. Factors affecting spatial and temporal variability in material exchange between the Southeastern Everglades wetlands and Florida Bay (USA). Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 56: 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tamarack, J. L. 1988. Georgia’s coastal island alligators, variations and habitat and prey availability. p. 105–118. In Proceedings of the Eighth Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group, IUCN—Gland, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  53. Trexler, J. C. and W. F. Loftus. 2000. Analysis of relationships of Everglades fish with hydrology using long-term data bases from the Everglades National Park. Report to Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  54. Trexler, J. C., W. F. Loftus, F. Jordan, J. Lorenz, J. Chick, and R. M. Kobza. 2001. Empirical assessment of fish introductions in a subtropical wetland: an evaluation of contrasting views. Biological Invasions 2: 265–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Twilley, R. R. 1998. Mangrove wetlands. p. 445–473. In M. G. Messina and W. H. Conner (eds.) Southern Forested Wetlands Ecology and Management. CRC Press, Delray Beach, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  56. VanZee, R. 1999. Natural System Model version 4.5 documentation report. South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  57. Wanless, H. R., P. Oleck, L. P. Tedesco, and B. E. Hall. 2000. Next 100 years of evolution of the Greater Everglades ecosystem in response to anticipated sea level rise: nature, extent and causes. Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Science Conference 2000: 174–176.Google Scholar
  58. Wanless, H. R., R. W. Parkinson, and L. P. Tedesco. 1994. Sea level control on stability of Everglades wetlands. p. 199–223. In S. M. Davis and J. C. Ogden (eds.) Everglades: the Ecosystem and Its Restoration. St. Lucie Press, Delray Beach, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  59. Wanless, H. R., L. P. Tedesco, J. A. Risi, B. G. Bischof, and S. Gelsanliter. 1995. The Role of Storm Processes on the Growth and Evolution of Coastal and Shallow Marine Sedimentary Environments in South Florida. Field Trip Guide, The 1st SEPM Congress on Sedimentary Geology, St. Petersburg, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  60. Wanless, H. R. and B. Vlaswinkel. 2005. Coastal landscape and channel evolution affecting critical habitats at Cape Sable, Everglades National Park, Florida. Final Report to Everglades National Park, United States Department of the Interior, Homestead, FL, USA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven M. Davis
    • 1
  • Daniel L. Childers
    • 2
  • Jerome J. Lorenz
    • 3
  • Harold R. Wanless
    • 4
  • Todd E. Hopkins
    • 5
  1. 1.South Florida Water Management DistrictWest Palm BeachUSA
  2. 2.Florida International UniversityUniversity Park MiamiUSA
  3. 3.National Audubon SocietyTavernierUSA
  4. 4.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  5. 5.United States Fish and Wildlife ServiceVero Beach FloridaUSA

Personalised recommendations