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Phosphorus budgets in Everglades wetland ecosystems: the effects of hydrology and nutrient enrichment

Gregory B. Noe and Daniel L. Childers

G. B. Noe
US Geological Survey, 430 National Center, Reston, VA 20192, USA

D. L. Childers
Department of Biology and Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA

©Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007. Posted here with permission; Wetlands Ecol Manage (2007) 15:189-205.

A PDF version of this entire publication is available for download (288 KB) from the Water Resources of the United States website. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view this file.


The Florida Everglades is a naturally oligotrophic hydroscape that has experienced large changes in ecosystem structure and function as the result of increased anthropogenic phosphorus (P) loading and hydrologic changes. We present whole-ecosystem models of P cycling for Everglades wetlands with differing hydrology and P enrichment with the goal of synthesizing existing information into ecosystem P budgets. Budgets were developed for deeper water oligotrophic wet prairie/slough ('Slough'), shallower water oligotrophic Cladium jamaicense ('Cladium'), partially enriched C. jamaicense/Typha spp. mixture ('Cladium/Typha'), and enriched Typha spp. ('Typha') marshes. The majority of ecosystem P was stored in the soil in all four ecosystem types, with the flocculent detrital organic matter (floc) layer at the bottom of the water column storing the next largest proportion of ecosystem P pools. However, most P cycling involved ecosystem components in the water column (periphyton, floc, and consumers) in deeper water, oligotrophic Slough marsh. Fluxes of P associated with macrophytes were more important in the shallower water, oligotrophic Cladium marsh. The two oligotrophic ecosystem types had similar total ecosystem P stocks and cycling rates, and low rates of P cycling associated with soils. Phosphorus flux rates cannot be estimated for ecosystem components residing in the water column in Cladium/Typha or Typha marshes due to insufficient data. Enrichment caused a large increase in the importance of macrophytes to P cycling in Everglades wetlands. The flux of P from soil to the water column, via roots to live aboveground tissues to macrophyte detritus, increased from 0.03 and 0.2 g P m-2 yr-1 in oligotrophic Slough and Cladium marsh, respectively, to 1.1 g P m-2 yr-1 in partially enriched Cladium/Typha, and 1.6 g P m-2 yr-1 in enriched Typha marsh. This macrophyte translocation P flux represents a large source of internal eutrophication to surface waters in P-enriched areas of the Everglades.

chart illustrating phosphorus budget for oligotrophic wet prairie/slough ecosystem chart illustrating phosphorus budget for partially enriched Cladium jamaicense/Typha species mixture ecosystem
chart illustrating phosphorus budget for oligotrophic Cladium jamaicense ecosystem chart illustrating phosphorus budget for enriched Typha species ecosystem
Fig. 1 Phosphorus budgets for Everglades wetland ecosystems: a) oligotrophic wet prairie/slough, b) oligotrophic Cladium jamaicense, c) partially enriched Cladium jamaicense/Typha spp. mixture, and d) enriched Typha spp. Standing stocks (g P m-2 yr-1) in individual ecosystem components are shown in boxes, and net directional fluxes (g P m-2 yr-1) between components are shown with arrows. Measured fluxes are shown with solid black arrows, fluxes estimated using data from other ecosystems or estimated indirectly are shown with solid gray arrows, fluxes estimated by mass balance are shown with dashed gray arrows, and fluxes with insufficient information are shown with double gray arrows. Phosphorus concentrations in inflowing and outflowing surface water are also shown. AG = aboveground [click on images above for larger versions]

Related information:

SOFIA Project: Effect of Water Flow on Transport of Solutes, Suspended Particles, and Particle-Associated Nutrients in the Everglades Ridge and Slough Landscape

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