projects > geochemistry of wetland sediments from south florida
Geochemistry of Wetland Sediments from South Florida
This project is examining (1) sources of nutrients, sulfur, and carbon to wetlands of south Florida, (2) the important role of chemical and biological processes to the wetland sediments (biogeochemical processes) in the cycling of these elements, and (3) the ultimate fate (i.e., sinks) of these elements in the ecosystem. The focus on nutrients and carbon reflects the problem of eutrophication in the northern Everglades, where excess phosphorus from agricultural runoff has dramatically altered the biology of the ecosystem. Results will be used by land and water managers to predict the fate of nutrients (especially phosphorus) in contaminated areas of the Everglades, and to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of buffer wetlands being constructed as nutrient removal areas. Studies of sulfur in the ecosystem are important for understanding the processes involved in mercury methylation in the Everglades. Methyl mercury (a potent neurotoxin) poses a severe health risk to organisms in the south Florida ecosystem and to humans. Sediment studies being conducted by this project will also be used to construct a geochemical history of the ecosystem. An understanding of past changes in the geochemical environment of south Florida will provide land and water managers with baseline information on what water quality goals for the ecosystem should be, and on how the ecosystem has responded to past environmental change and will likely respond to the changes that will accompany restoration.
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