Heterogeneity of phosphorus distribution in a patterned landscape, the Florida Everglades

Date
2009-01-01
Authors
van der Valk, Arnold
Wetzel, Paul
van der Valk, Arnold
Newman, Susan
Coronado, Carlos
Troxler-Gann, Tiffany
Childers, Daniel
Orem, William
Sklar, Fred
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van der Valk, Arnold
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Professor Emeritus
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Abstract

The biologically mediated transfer of nutrients from one part of a landscape to another may create nutrient gradients or subsidize the productivity at specific locations. If limited, this focused redistribution of the nutrient may create non-random landscape patterns that are unrelated to underlying environmental gradients. The Florida Everglades, USA, is a large freshwater wetland that is patterned with tree islands, elevated areas that support woody vegetation. A survey of 12 tree islands found total soil phosphorus levels 3–114 times greater on the island head than the surrounding marsh, indicating that the Florida Everglades is not a homogeneous oligotrophic system. It was estimated that historically 67% of the phosphorus entering the central Everglades was sequestered on tree islands, which are ~3.8% of the total land area. This internal redistribution of phosphorus onto tree islands due to the establishment of trees may be one reason that marshes have remained oligotrophic and may explain the spatial differentiation of the patterned Everglades landscape.

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This article is published as Wetzel, Paul R., Arnold G. Van Der Valk, Susan Newman, Carlos A. Coronado, Tiffany G. Troxler-Gann, Daniel L. Childers, William H. Orem, and Fred H. Sklar. "Heterogeneity of phosphorus distribution in a patterned landscape, the Florida Everglades." Plant Ecology 200, no. 1 (2009): 83-90. doi: 10.1007/s11258-008-9449-3.

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