Between 1871 and 2003, 40 tropical cyclones struck the Everglades, usually every one to three years. The Everglades National Park Vegetation Inventory Project is currently in progress. [35] Where the predominant soil is peat, a water-marsh community exists. Bladderwort prefers to make its home in calm, shallow waters. [45], Some hammocks are dominated by types of vegetation that grow in relation to the amount of water or type of soil present. These hammocks form on slightly elevated areas unharmed by deep peat fires or limestone plateaus rising several inches above the surrounding peat. Average annual rainfall in the Everglades is approximately 62 inches (160 cm), though fluctuations of precipitation are normal. Ecosystems have been described as both fragile and resilient. Because the defining feature of The Big Cypress is the abundance of trees it is considered a swamp, rather than a marsh where grass is the main characteristic. [26] The hydroperiod for the marsh is usually nine months but can last longer. [62] Bromeliads collect moisture from rain and humidity in the bases of their leaves, which also nurture frogs, lizards and various insects. A spectacular and particularly damaging example of this phenomenon is the recent proliferation of the Burmese python in the Everglades, as well as elsewhere in Florida. The dried peat burned or was degraded into carbon dioxide and water by microorganisms. What look like speckles within the Everglades are small islands of trees rising above the freshwater saw grass wetlands. [5] Before the first attempt at draining the Everglades in 1882, the entire watershed extended from Orlando to Florida Bay comprising the Kissimmee–Lake Okeechobee–Everglades (KLOE) watershed. In shorter hydroperiods, marl may form instead of peat. IMAGERY As the fresh water from Lake Okeechobee makes its way to Florida Bay, it meets salt water from the Gulf of Mexico; mangrove forests grow in this transitional zone, providing nursery and nesting conditions for many species of birds, fish, and invertebrates. [41] Islands vary in size, but most range between 1 and 10 acres (0.40 and 4.05 ha); the water slowly flowing around them limits their size and gives them a teardrop appearance from above. Pinelands and tropical hardwood hammocks are located throughout the sloughs; the trees, rooted in soil inches above the peat, marl, or water, support a variety of wildlife. Settlement of urban areas in South Florida was facilitated by large drainage projects intended to create more land. Geologic elements, climate, and the frequency of storms and fire are formative processes for the Everglades. The South Florida metropolitan area is located on a portion of the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, and much of the landscape has changed drastically within the past 100 years as a result of urban growth. [30] The peat beds that support sawgrass are slightly elevated and may begin abruptly creating ridges of grass. [38] They may rise between 1 and 3 feet (0.30 and 0.91 m) above water level in freshwater sloughs, sawgrass prairies, or pineland. [83], People have lived in the Everglades region for thousands of years. [3], The Everglades are dominated by sawgrass in water; this is the titular "River of Grass" popularized by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1947. The area recognized as the Everglades, prior to drainage, was a web of marshes and prairies 4,000 square miles (10,000 km ) in size. Much like tree islands that are colloquially referred to as "heads", cypress trees grow in formations that resemble domes, with the tallest and thickest trunks in the center, rooted in the deepest peat. The sedge is a three-dimensional v-shaped stalk with upward-pointing teeth. Its slow flow of water supports grasslands, thick forests, and a diverse group of animal, fish, and bird. Vegetation strongly reflects . In some forests, 15 species of birds can be found. Environmental conditions in the Everglades favor no particular species. Fossilized bryozoans and tiny shells, or ooids, make the limestone porous. Periphyton is predominantly algae, although over 100 different microorganisms help create it. It is full of the most vivid and most interesting life on land, in the air, and in the water. mangrove forest. It also eradicated orchids, bromeliads, and other epiphytes that once flourished in the mangroves; their reappearance may take a century or more. The final type of vegetation that I will talk about is the mangrove forest. This led to the die-off of seagrass, crucial for local marine life, leaving the water matted with deceased vegetation. Two kinds of wet prairies thrive in the Everglades: marl and water-marsh community. Tadpoles spread quickly in isolated areas where fish do not have the time or access to reproduce in numbers necessary to support larger animals. When water from canals or locks is released too soon or not at all, storks are unable to find enough food for themselves and their offspring. [3], Researchers have noted that fires appear in cycles associated with those of the hydroperiods. Peat and marl are considered nutrient-poor soils that foster the growth of specialized vegetation depending on the length of the regional hydroperiod. [86] They have a single gill and lung, and live on stalks of sawgrass in water depths no more than 20 inches (51 cm). [50] Within Everglades National Park, 19,840 acres (80.3 km2) of pine rockland communities are protected, but outside the park, 1,780 acres (7.2 km2) of pine forests remain as of 1990, averaging 12.1 acres (0.049 km2) in size. [74] Larger islands may be taken over by hardwood hammocks. An estimated 20,000 wood storks nested in The Big Cypress in the 1930s, but by the 1990s less than 2,000 were counted. [1] When Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote her definitive description of the region in 1947, she used the metaphor "River of Grass" to explain the blending of water and plant life. They used the horse conch (Triplofusus papillosus), left-handed whelk (Sinistrofulgur), and the Florida crown conch (Melongena corona) as drinking vessels, picks, hammers, knives and awls. As a result, much of The Big Cypress is protected by various federal or state agencies that include Big Cypress National Preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve and two Indian reservations.[59]. Most marshes in the Everglades are dominated by the sedge known as Cladium, or sawgrass in common terminology. The drainage was often implemented without a full understanding of the intricacies of ecosystems and shaping processes of the Everglades. Borders between ecosystems are subtle or imperceptible. Geologic factors, climate, an… The South Florida climate was once arid and semi-arid, interspersed with wet periods. [93] The State of Florida and the U.S. government devised and passed a plan in 2000 to restore as much of the Everglades to pre-drainage conditions as possible. Scientists point to fire as the reason. At a transitional zone where fresh water meets salt water, mangrove trees thrive, adapted as they are to both kinds of water. The great floral variety of the Everglades is one of the key resources of the park. [3] The first cycle is the annual wet-season fires that occur with rapid frequency during the summer, but are quickly extinguished. Its ecosystems are in constant flux as a result of the interplay of three factors: the type and amount of water present, the geology of the region, and the frequency and severity of fires. These plants contain tubers and other mechanisms allowing for quick sprouts after charring. The predominant ecosystem in the Flatwoods is pine forest, but there are also cypress swamps and sloughs in the Eastern Flatwoods. [97], Details of the natural environment of the Everglades, Gleason, Patrick, Peter Stone, "Age, Origins, and Landscape Evolution of the Everglades Peatland" in. Few places in the Everglades stay submerged from one year to the next, so alligator holes and deep clefts in the limestone are vital to the survival of fish, and the animal community as a whole. [48] Along the eastern border of the Everglades is the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, rising 20 feet (6.1 m) in elevation, and curving to the southwest, gradually decreasing in elevation until it meets Taylor Slough. important part of the Everglade's vegetation are the tree islands and the However, since 1932, sea levels have been rising at a rate of 1 foot (0.30 m) per 100 years. The Everglades are unique; no other wetland system in the world is nourished primarily from the atmosphere. The composition of Everglades plant communities has been changing since the ecosystem began to form some 5000 years ago. Three species of mangrove trees exist in the region: red (Rhizophora mangle), black (Avicennia germinans), and white (Laguncularia racemosa), although all are from different families. Alligators have created an ecological niche in wet prairies; they dig at low spots with their claws and snouts and create ponds free of vegetation that remain submerged throughout the dry season. 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