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projects > impacts of hydrologic and climatic change on greater everglades marl prairies, marshes, and sloughs

Impacts of Hydrologic and Climatic Change on Greater Everglades Marl Prairies, Marshes, and Sloughs

photograph of a prairie landscape
Project Investigator: Debra A. Willard

Project Personnel: Christopher Bernhardt, Bryan Landacre, Marci Marot, Thomas Sheehan, J. Sah, Paul Conrads

Project Start Date: 2006 End Date: 2012

Recent Funding: (FY12) USGS GE PES, (FY11) USGS GE PES, (FY10) USGS GE PES, (FY09) USGS GE PES, (FY08) USGS GE PES, (FY07) USGS GE PES


Summary

The initial objective of this project is reconstruction of marl prairie vegetation and hydroperiod for the last few centuries to evaluate impacts of climate variability and anthropogenic alteration of hydrology on this critical habitat. An additional objective of the project is refinement of down-core estimates of hydroperiod and stage by calibrating results from new and existing cores with nearby stream gage records.

The initial objective of this project is reconstruction of marl prairie vegetation and hydroperiod for the last few centuries to evaluate impacts of climate variability and anthropogenic alteration of hydrology on this critical habitat. This research builds upon previous work throughout the Greater Everglades wetland that documents responses of tree islands and the ridge and slough landscape to natural and anthropogenic hydrologic change (completed 2007). This task requires: 1) multi-proxy analyses (pollen, charcoal, carbon isotopes, geochronology) of sediment cores from marl prairie habitats; and 2) refinements to the existing Everglades pollen calibration dataset by collecting and analyzing surface samples along vegetation transects established by M. Ross and colleagues at Florida International University. An additional objective of the project is refinement of down-core estimates of hydroperiod and stage by calibrating results from new and existing cores with nearby stream gage records. For this task, fine sampling of several new cores will be paired with stream gages with the longest records to calibrate pollen-based estimates of hydroperiod using instrumental records. The resulting refinements will be used to re-evaluate paleohydrologic evidence from ~75 existing sites and develop an Everglades-wide hydrologic reconstruction for pre- and post-drainage time slices. Proxy records preserved in Everglades sediments provide an archive of wetland response to a series of natural and anthropogenic hydrologic experiments during the last few millennia and document the impacts of multidecadal climate processes on wetland communities. By extending the period of record of observations in this \"living laboratory of change\", these data improve our ability to forecast future ecosystem response to a broad range of climate and management scenarios.

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