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Vegetation Pattern and Process in Tree Islands of the Southern Everglades and Adjacent Areas

  • Thomas V. Armentano
  • David T. Jones
  • Michael S. Ross
  • Brandon W. Gamble

Abstract

The tree islands of the Everglades area of southern Florida, including adjacent interior and coastal areas, are classified based on species composition and environmental factors controlling tree island distribution and structure. Tree islands occur on various substrates within surrounding habitats that may be freshwater or coastal wetlands, or rockland pine forest of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. Eight tree island groupings within seven subregions are defined by cluster analysis of data from the literature and previously unpublished studies. Additional types are recognized based on distinguishing ecological features. Most of the types are dominated by native, tropical species found in the continental United States only in southern Florida. Hurricanes, drainage, excessive burning, spread of non-native species and logging have differentially affected all types and few undisturbed tree islands exist even within federally preserved lands. Collectively, the types occur along local and regional elevation gradients, with associated vulnerability to flooding and fires. Marked differences exist in the response of tree islands to protracted flooding that are consistent with their location in the landscape. Thus bayhead swamps, which occur as part of freshwater slough tree islands and are comprised mostly of temperate swamp forest species, have been inundated up to 10 months/yr in the past several decades, while tropical hardwood hammocks on the same tree islands were inundated for 0 to 23% of the year. Hammocks within rockland pine forests seldom if ever flood, but they are subject to periodic fires. A total of 164 woody species occur naturally in the area’s forested islands, although many are rare or highly restricted in distribution. All 135 tropical species have distribution ranges centered in the West Indies where most occur in calcareous, dry sites, frequently as invaders of disturbed habitats.

Keywords

Vegetation Pattern Tree Island Total Basal Area Everglades National Park Tropical Hardwood 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas V. Armentano
    • 1
  • David T. Jones
    • 1
  • Michael S. Ross
    • 2
  • Brandon W. Gamble
    • 1
  1. 1.South Florida Natural Resources CenterEverglades National ParkHomesteadUSA
  2. 2.Southeast Environmental Research CenterFloridaInternational UniversityMiamiUSA

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