Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wetland restoration in the northern Everglades: Watershed potential and nutrient legacies

Date:
October 10, 2013
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
To most people, restoration of Florida's Everglades means recovering and protecting the wetlands of south Florida. What many don't realize is how intimately the fortunes of the southern Everglades are tied to central Florida's Lake Okeechobee and lands even further north.

To most people, restoration of Florida's Everglades means recovering and protecting the wetlands of south Florida, including Everglades National Park. But what many don't realize is how intimately the fortunes of the southern Everglades are tied to central Florida's Lake Okeechobee and lands even further north.
Credit: cristina_garcia / Fotolia

To most people, restoration of Florida's Everglades means recovering and protecting the wetlands of south Florida, including Everglades National Park. But what many don't realize is how intimately the fortunes of the southern Everglades are tied to central Florida's Lake Okeechobee and lands even further north.

"The Everglades at the southern tip of Florida -- the remains of what was once a vast ecosystem -- is interconnected with a large hydrologic system that really begins in Orlando with the northern Everglades," says Patrick Bohlen, a professor of biology at University of Central Florida. The heart of the system is Lake Okeechobee, he continues, which collects water from the northern Everglades region. This water then used to flow from the lake into the Everglades of the south.

But this natural path of water has been greatly altered by people, leading to a host of environmental problems that state and federal scientists, policy makers, conservationists, and private landowners are now trying to solve. On Nov. 4, Bohlen will present "Wetland Restoration in the Northern Everglades: Watershed Potential and Nutrient Legacies." His talk is part of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America Annual Meetings, Nov. 3-6 in Tampa, Florida.

One of the big challenges is nutrient pollution. Land in the northern Everglades is mostly privately owned, and urbanization and agriculture now send runoff laden with fertilizers and other contaminants into Lake Okeechobee. This nutrient-contaminated water would damage the delicate southern Everglades should it reach them. So, much of the water that historically flowed south from Lake Okeechobee is now diverted to estuaries on Florida's east and west coasts.

As a result, the southern Everglades are somewhat starved for water, while the coastal estuaries receive far too much from the lake. Although a connection hasn't been definitively made, heavy flows of nutrient-rich freshwater into the estuaries are suspected in die-offs of eelgrass, manatees and pelicans; huge blooms of algae; and zones of oxygen-starved water, Bohlen says.

The situation reached a crisis this summer, but people have actually been working to restore the northern Everglades ever since problems with Lake Okeechobee first emerged in the 1980s. During his talk, Bohlen will first summarize these issues and then discuss his research on the effectiveness of various restoration practices and policies.

Cattle ranching is the main land use directly north of the lake. So, one restoration practice is to pay ranchers to restore wetlands or create ponds to hold water on their lands. This way, water from the northern Everglades doesn't flow as quickly or in as large amounts into Lake Okeechobee, taking pressure off the lake, its dike, and the estuaries. It may also be cheaper to store water in this manner, rather than in huge public works projects.

Plus, by holding back some water in restored marshes or ponds "in theory, at least, you'll also be holding back some of the nutrients," Bohlen says. Restored wetlands are generally very good, in fact, at removing nitrogen from the system. Phosphorus is trickier. According to Bohlen's research, re-flooding land that was formerly drained and farmed can actually release stored phosphorus into the water, rather than removing it.

"There's a tremendous legacy of accumulated phosphorus in the soils due to past fertilizer use," Bohlen says. "So we have this legacy that we have to live with."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Wetland restoration in the northern Everglades: Watershed potential and nutrient legacies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010091702.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2013, October 10). Wetland restoration in the northern Everglades: Watershed potential and nutrient legacies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010091702.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Wetland restoration in the northern Everglades: Watershed potential and nutrient legacies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131010091702.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins