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publications > thesis > successional dynamics of lightning-initiated canopy gaps in the mangrove forests of Shark River > recognitions

To: Interim Dean Mark Szuchman
College of Arts and Sciences

This dissertation, written by Kevin Richard Terrence Whelan, and entitled The Successional Dynamics of Lightning-initiated Canopy Gaps in the Mangrove Forests of Shark River, Everglades National Park, USA, having been approved in respect to style and intellectual content, is referred to you for judgment.

We have read this dissertation and recommend that it be approved.

Dr. Thomas J. Smith

Dr. David W. Lee

Dr. Daniel Childers

Dr. Michael McClain

Dr. Steven F. Oberbauer, Major Professor

Date of Defense: July 7, 2005

The dissertation of Kevin Richard Terrence Whelan is approved.

Interim Dean Mark Szuchman
College of Arts and Sciences

Dean Douglas Wartzok
University Graduate School

Florida International University, 2005

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6


I dedicate this dissertation to my family. My wife, Tina, who has read so many versions of this work, helped me in the field, and listened to me rant about life. She was always there for a push in the right direction or a hug, whichever was needed. This work would not have happened without her constant encouragement. To my daughter, Josie, who will be charged to have wise stewardship over this planet using our limited and flawed knowledge. To my father, Michael Whelan, who encouraged me to get a good education and always wondered how I had a job that allowed me to play in the woods. To my mother, Donna Whelan, who early on dragged me out to the garden, exposing me to the wonders of nature. She always encouraged me to do what I enjoyed. To my brother, Mike Whelan, with whom I experienced numerous explorations of nature, during our inquisitive youth, fishing, swimming, and camping in the Everglades. He always had the courage to try new things, towing me along with him. To the loving memory of my grandmother and mother2, Betty Jephson and Nancy Ugarte, two grand ladies, who taught me to love life and family the most. Finally, this dissertation is dedicated to the resilience of the Everglades. Specifically to a forest that has been logged, repeatedly impacted by hurricanes, starved for water or excessively flooded, ignored and violated yet remains wild, beautiful and always educating the curious souls that wander through it.


This work was supported by the Global Climate Change Program of the U.S. Geological Survey / Biological Resources Discipline and the Department of Interior's “Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative” administered by Everglades National Park (Interagency agreement #IA5280-7-9023). Additional financial support was provided by the Florida Integrated Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey specifically Jeff Keay, Dr. Russ Hall, and Dr. Ronnie Best. Sampling occurred under Everglades National Park permit EVER-2002-SCI-0029 and EVER-2003-SCI-0056.

There were numerous folks that were roped into assisting in the field or in the lab processing samples, data entry, or in statistical consultation, pushing boats off mud banks and feeding the mosquitoes. I would like to deeply thank the Mangrove Liberation Army whose members include: Laura Hadden, Jay C. Portnoy, Justin Akeung, Lisa Maria Figaro, Benny Luedike, Augustina Lopez, Susana Toledo, Pablo Valdes, Lisely Jimenez, Wilfred Guerreo, Marlene Dow, Eddie Gibson, Greg Ward, Christa Walker, Jed Redwine, and Danielle Palow. The large Dutch influx of volunteers to the MLA: Ives van Leth, Bram de Vlieger, Bart Hafkemeijer, Arnoud van Lockant, Bram Dittrich, Camille Vogel, Chris Duynhoven, Mark de Kwaadsteniet, Sjoerd Verhagen, Thijs Sandrink, Thijs van Oosterhout, Tim Aalten, Tom Basten, Wiestke van Betuw, and Wouter Woortman. GIS assistance from Pablo Ruiz and Paul Teague.

I would especially like to thank Matthew Warren, Robert Muxo, and Henry Barreras for being there for all of the hair brain field sampling ideas, and never telling me to walk the plank. My compatriot, Gordon Anderson, for all of the help and no reality checks, when it came to surviving the Everglades Mangroves (leave the car keys on the tire). Philippe Hensel and Chad Husby for statistical consultation. Assistance with manuscript editing from Cristina A. Ugarte-Whelan, Rene Price, David Lee, Michael McClain, Dan Childers, and the Ecosystem Review Group was greatly appreciated. Jim Lynch, for all of the SET technology and equipment, graphics assistance, and number one abilities. Don Cahoon for the introduction to the SET world and converting me into the fold of users of the latest SET technology. Thanks to Ken Krauss for being a sounding board for mangrove ecology and surviving in the federal research world. Boyd and Charles (Flamingo Boat Mechanics) for all of the help keeping boats afloat in times of crises.

Finally, the most wholehearted thanks to the dynamic duo that did not let reality set in and agree to have a student work on “lightning gaps” - (the name says it all). Liability was not an issue. Tom Smith supported and encouraged my mangrove research, and gave me guidance on how to act like a mentor. His straight shooting critiques of the work were useful (Though I still hate the red pen.). He was always there to supply the resources needed to accomplish fieldwork in the remote western Everglades. To Steve Oberbauer, my mentor and friend, many years of water have passed under the bridge and have finally come to an end. An undergrad hired to help out in the field never left your lab and will always feel that you wanted the best for his students. Thanks for all of the opportunities, advice, and encouragement.

Mention of trade names does not constitute endorsement by the US Government. The author takes full responsibility for any errors or oversights in this manuscript.

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