"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 Monday, Nov. 4, at 2:15 pm, 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."
Members of the media receive complimentary registration to the joint ASA, CSSA, SSSA meetings. To register or to arrange a one-on-one interview with Bohlen, please contact Susan Fisk at the email address above by Oct. 25, 2013.
Susan Fisk | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.agronomy.org
More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:
Sustainable, innovative forest use for Europe
11.12.2013 | Bayerische Forschungsallianz GmbH
Toxic Substances in Banana Plants Kill Root Pests
11.12.2013 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
The molecular architecture of three key proteins and their complexes reveals how plants fine-tune their immune response to pathogens
Plants rarely get sick in their natural environment. When the threat of infection arises, a quick decision is made about the necessary countermeasures. The course is set by a protein which forms complexes with its partner proteins for this purpose.
Jane Parker from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ...
Researchers studying speciation of butterfly orchids on the Azores have been startled to discover that the answer to a long-debated question "Do the islands support one species or two species?" is actually "three species".
Hochstetter's Butterfly-orchid, newly recognized following application of a battery of scientific techniques and reveling in a complex taxonomic history worthy of Sherlock Holmes, is arguably Europe's rarest orchid species. Under threat in its mountain-top retreat, the orchid urgently requires conservation recognition.
A lavishly illustrated publication, titled "Systematic revision of Platanthera in ...
Researchers from Brown University and the University of Hawaii have found some mineralogical surprises in the Moon's largest impact crater.
Data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper that flew aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter shows a diverse mineralogy in the subsurface of the giant South Pole Aitken basin.
The differing mineral signatures could be reflective of the minerals dredged up at the time of the giant impact 4 billion years ago, ...
In power electronics systems bonded connections create the central electrical connections between adjoining surfaces.
The quality of these bonded connections is one of the main factors that determines the reliability and availability of drive systems in electric vehicles, and hence constitutes a major design challenge for German auto manufacturers aiming to electrify their vehicles.
Now the partners participating in the RoBE (Robust Bonds in ...
International team of scientists develops new feedback method for optimizing the laser pulse shapes used in the control of chemical reactions
In many ways, traditional chemical synthesis is similar to cooking. To alter the final product, you can change the ingredients or their ratio, change the method of mixing ingredients, or change the temperature or pressure of the environment of the ingredients.
Like an accomplished chef, chemists have become very skilled ...
11.12.2013 | Information Technology
11.12.2013 | Life Sciences
11.12.2013 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
11.12.2013 | Event News
10.12.2013 | Event News
05.12.2013 | Event News