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projects > development and stability of everglades tree islands, ridge and slough, and marl prairies

Development and Stability of Everglades Tree Islands, Ridge and Slough, and Marl Prairies

photo of tree islands
Project Investigator: Debra A. Willard

Project Personnel: William H. Orem, Charles W. Holmes, Harry E. Lerch, Marci Marot, Margo Corum, Christopher Bernhardt, Bryan Landacre, Thomas Sheehan

Project Start Date: 2000 End Date: 2006

Recent Funding: (FY06) USGS GE PES, (FY05) USGS GE PES


Summary

This project aims to develop a vegetational and geochemical history of tree islands to be integrated with mapping of current vegetation, topography and lithology of underlying limestone, and hydrologic studies to understand the environmental parameters that have controlled past tree-island formation.

Please note - this is a completed project. For related information, please see the Impacts of Hydrologic and Climatic Change on Greater Everglades Marl Prairies, Marshes, and Sloughs project, which began in 2006.

Tree islands are considered key indicators of the health of the Everglades ecosystem because of their sensitivity to both flooding and drought conditions. Tree islands also act as a sink for nutrients in the ecosystem and may play an important role in regulating nutrient dynamics. Although management strategies to restore and even create tree islands are being formulated, the published data on their age, developmental history, and geochemistry is limited. To determine underlying controls on the formation and development of Everglades tree islands, this project will integrate floral and geochemical data with geologic and vegetational mapping activities to establish the timing and environmental controls on development of both healthy and degraded tree islands throughout the Everglades. We also will study the role of tree islands in the geochemical budget of nutrients in the Everglades and investigate the use of sediment phosphorous as a tracer of historic bird populations in the Everglades.

This project aims to develop a vegetational and geochemical history of tree islands to be integrated with mapping of current vegetation, topography and lithology of underlying limestone, and hydrologic studies to understand the environmental parameters that have controlled past tree-island formation. Such an interdisciplinary effort is necessary to determine how geologic and environmental factors interacted to form Everglades tree islands. Specific goals of this project include: to document the timing of tree-island formation across the region; to establish patterns of vegetational development and geochemical changes on the islands; to compare development of different types of tree islands; and to develop a model of tree-island formation that may be used in restoration of degraded islands and, possibly, creation of new islands.Learn more about this project...

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  • tree island mapTree Island Map (shows location of Tree Islands cored for the Ecosystem History project)

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Script last updated: 29 May 2014 @ 12:08 PM by THF. Record creator: BJM. Record last updated by: LJT.