Rapid responses of vegetation to hydrological changes in Taylor Slough, Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

  • Armentano T
  • Sah J
  • Ross M
 et al. 
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Abstract

We analyzed the dynamics of freshwater marsh vegetation of Taylor Slough
in eastern Everglades National Park for the 1979 to 2003 period,
focusing on cover of individual plant species and on cover and
composition of marsh communities in areas potentially influenced by a
canal pump station ({''}S332{''}) and its successor station
({''}S332D{''}). Vegetation change analysis incorporated the hydrologic
record at these sites for three intervals: pre-S332 (1961-1980), S332
(1980-1999), post-S332 (1999-2002). During S332 and post-S332 intervals,
water level in Taylor Slough was affected by operations of S332 and
S332D. To relate vegetation change to plot-level hydrological conditions
in Taylor Slough, we developed a weighted averaging regression and
calibration model (WA) using data from the marl prairies of Everglades
National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. We examined vegetation
pattern along five transects. Transects 1-3were established in 1979
south of the water delivery structures, and were influenced by their
operations. Transects 4 and 5 were established in 1997, the latter west
of these structures and possibly under their influence. Transect 4 was
established in the northern drainage basin of Taylor Slough, beyond the
likely zones of influence of S332 and S332D. The composition of all
three southern transects changed similarly after 1979. Where muhly grass
(Muhlenbergia capillaris var. filipes) was once dominant, sawgrass
(Cladium jamaicense), replaced it, while where sawgrass initially
predominated, hydric species such as spikerush (Eleocharis cellulosa
Torr.) overtook it. Most of the changes in species dominance in
Transects 1-3 occurred after 1992, were mostly in place by 1995-1996,
and continued through 1999, indicating how rapidly vegetation in
seasonal Everglades marshes can respond to hydrological modifications.
During the post-S332 period, these long-term trends began reversing. In
the two northern transects, total cover and dominance of both muhly
grass and sawgrass increased from 1997 to 2003. Thus, during the 1990's,
vegetation composition south of S332 became more like that of long
hydroperiod marshes, but afterward it partially returned to its 1979
condition, i.e., a community characteristic of less prolonged flooding.
In contrast, the vegetation change along the two northern transects
since 1997 showed little relationship to hydrologic status.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Everglades National Park
  • Hydrology
  • Restoration
  • Taylor Slough
  • Vegetation change
  • Water management

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Authors

  • Jay SahFlorida International University

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  • Thomas V. Armentano

  • Michael S. Ross

  • David T. Jones

  • Hillary C. Cooley

  • Craig S. Smith

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