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Title: Sea Level Rise affects the Everglades Ecosystem and Restoration Plan

I. Introduction

A. Changes in precipitation, temperature, and sea level will affect the Everglades Ecosystem. (Nungesser et al. 2015)

B. Damage to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan to restore fresh water.

(Aumen et al. 2015)

C. Hypothesis: “Sea level rise caused by global warming is reducing

sawgrass populations, enabling intrusion of mangroves, and damaging the

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. This is in turn causing

animal populations to decrease or disperse, and ecosystem services to be

lost.”

II. Sea level rise is reducing sawgrass populations and ecosystem functions

A. Abundance of salt water will eat away the saw grass in the famous “river of grass” and lower their population.

1. Salinity reduces saw grass germination (Pulido et al. 2020)

2. Reduced root biomass (Charles et al. 2019)

3. Ecosystem function/ services (Bansal et al. 2019)

B. Will lead to peat soil being destroyed, peat soil is important for the wetlands elevation.

1. Soil surface elevation (Howard et al. 2020)

2. Exposing wetlands soil (Servais et al. 2019)

3. Structure and function of sawgrass (environmental stress) (Servais et al.

2019)

C. Peat accumulation will lead to less carbon sequestration and erosion of land.

1. Carbon sequestration are decreasing (Chambers et al. 2014)

2. Land Erosion (Sirianni and Comas, 2020)

III. Sea level rise enables intrusion of mangroves

A. Mangroves prevent the intrusion of salt water to the everglades.

1. Mangrove dieback (Zhao et al. 2020)

2. Mangroves accommodate to sea level rise (Feher et al. 2020)

B. Mangroves prevent storm surges. (Jiang et al. 2014)

C. Enabling the intrusion of mangroves will prevent them from stabilizing the

coastline and reducing erosion. (Willard et al. 2011)

IV. Animal communities dependent on saw grass are changing in composition and function.

A. Loss of animal habitats Loss of suitable animal habitats (Catano et al. 2015)

B. Will decrease the amount of American crocodiles. Influence of salinity on American crocodiles (Mazzotti et al. 2019)

C. Damage to native and nonnative fish in the area.

Loss of fish density due to excess salinity (Romanach et al. 2019)

V. Specific local solutions involve modifications to the restoration plan

A. Modify the Restoration Plan

B. Increase amount of freshwater discharge through rivers

C. Raise freshwater levels near the coast

D. Freshwater storage

VI. Conclusion

A. Sea level rise is threating the Everglades, causing damage to the river of grass, negatively affecting the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, and causing the loss of its ecosystem.

B. Implementing ways of saving freshwater wetlands will benefit the Everglades and South Florida.

Works Cited

• Aumen, N.G., Havens, K.E., Best, G.R. et al. Predicting Ecological Responses of the Florida Everglades to Possible Future Climate Scenarios: Introduction.Environmental Management 55, 741–748 (2015). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s00267-014-0439-z

• Bansal, S., Lishawa, S.C., Newman, S. et al. Typha (Cattail) Invasion in North American Wetlands: Biology, Regional Problems, Impacts, Ecosystem Services, and Management. Wetlands 39, 645–684 (2019). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s13157-019- 01174-7

• Catano, C.P., Romañach, S.S., Beerens, J.M. et al. Using Scenario Planning to Evaluate the Impacts of Climate Change on Wildlife Populations and Communities in the Florida Everglades. Environmental Management 55, 807–823 (2015). https://doi- org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s00267-014-0397-5

• Chambers, L.G., Davis, S.E., Troxler, T. et al. Biogeochemical effects of simulated sea level rise on carbon loss in an Everglades mangrove peat soil. Hydrobiologia 726, 195–211 (2014). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10750-013-1764-6

• Charles, S.P., Kominoski, J.S., Troxler, T.G. et al. Experimental Saltwater Intrusion Drives Rapid Soil Elevation and Carbon Loss in Freshwater and Brackish Everglades Marshes. Estuaries and Coasts 42, 1868–1881 (2019). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s12237-019-00620-3

• Feher, L.C., Osland, M.J., Anderson, G.H. et al. The Long-Term Effects of Hurricanes Wilma and Irma on Soil Elevation Change in Everglades Mangrove Forests. Ecosystems 23, 917–931 (2020). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10021-019-00446-x

• Howard, R.J., From, A.S., Krauss, K.W. et al. Soil surface elevation dynamics in a mangrove-to- marsh ecotone characterized by vegetation shifts. Hydrobiologia 847, 1087–1106 (2020). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10750-019-04170-4

• Jiang, J., DeAngelis, D.L., Anderson, G.H. et al. Analysis and Simulation of Propagule Dispersal and Salinity Intrusion from Storm Surge on the Movement of a Marsh–Mangrove Ecotone in South Florida. Estuaries and Coasts 37, 24–35 (2014). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s12237- 013-9666-4

• Mazzotti, F. J., Smith, B. J., Squires, M. A., Cherkiss, M. S., Farris, S. C., Hackett, C., … Brandt, L. A. (2019). Influence of salinity on relative density of American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) in Everglades National Park: Implications for restoration of Everglades ecosystems. Ecological Indicators, 102, 608–616. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.03.002

• Nungesser, M., Saunders, C., Coronado-Molina, C. et al. Potential Effects of Climate Change on Florida’s Everglades. Environmental Management 55, 824–835 (2015). https://doi- org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s00267-014-0417-5

• Pulido, C., Sebesta, N., & Richards, J. H. (2020). Effects of salinity on sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense Crantz) seed germination. Aquatic Botany, 166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2020.103277

• Romañach, S.S., Beerens, J.M., Patton, B.A. et al. Impacts of Saltwater Intrusion on Wetland Prey Production and Composition in a Historically Freshwater Marsh.Estuaries and Coasts 42, 1600– 1611 (2019). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s12237-019-00572-8

• Servais, S., Kominoski, J. S., Charles, S. P., Gaiser, E. E., Mazzei, V., Troxler, T. G., & Wilson, B. J. (2019). Saltwater intrusion and soil carbon loss: Testing effects of salinity and phosphorus loading on microbial functions in experimental freshwater wetlands. Geoderma, 337, 1291–1300. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.11.013

• Sirianni, M. J., & Comas, X. (2020). Changes in physical properties of Everglades peat soils induced by increased salinity at the laboratory scale: Implications for changes in biogenic gas dynamics. Water Resources Research, 56, e2019WR026144. https://doi- org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1029/2019WR026144

• Willard, D.A., Bernhardt, C.E. Impacts of past climate and sea level change on Everglades wetlands: placing a century of anthropogenic change into a late-Holocene context. Climatic Change 107, 59 (2011). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10584-011-0078-9

• Zhao, X., Rivera-Monroy, V. H., Wang, H., Xue, Z. G., Tsai, C. F., Willson, C. S., … Twilley, R. R. (2020). Modeling soil porewater salinity in mangrove forests (Everglades, Florida, USA) impacted by hydrological restoration and a warming climate. Ecological Modelling, 436. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2020.109292

1

Seal Level Rise Affects the Everglades Ecosystem

Thalia Acosta

Florida International University

BSC 4931

12/09/2020

Sea Level Rise Affects the Everglades Ecosystem

Everglades National park remains to be a gem within the south of Florida. A home to crocodiles, alligators and hundreds of other wildlife as well as important plants and aqua life like fish. It’s also the source of freshwater for the increasing population within South Florida. However what is home to many wildlife, sawgrass prairies is being threatened by human activities, climate change and global warming. For instance, Florida is experiencing a burgeoning population crisis with counties like Palm Beach and Miami-Dade leading the way. Poor water management systems have changed the flow of freshwater through the river. The reduction in fresh water flow within the river of grass has also resulted in saltwater penetration to the inland. The penetration has resulted in contamination of fresh water aquifers and an increase in agricultural runoffs polluting the freshwater with phosphorous nutrients. The increasing salinity levels within Everglades could ultimately result in coral reefs damage especially around cuts between water flows and bays.

The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan developed by both the Federal and state government are also at risk of being damaged. According to () the plan and efforts by the federal and state government could not work out in saving Everglades. Everglade faces more challenging situations and times from the rising seas and increased climatic changes caused by global warming. Rising seas are already a problem within Florida coastline and scientists believe this could increase significantly in the decade ahead. This paper argues that sea level rise caused by global warming is reducing sawgrass populations, enabling intrusion of mangroves, and damaging the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. This is in turn causing animal populations to decrease or disperse, and ecosystem services to be lost.

Sea level rise is reducing sawgrass populations and ecosystem functions. Coastal wetlands provide a suitable intertidal zone that helps maintain the ecosystem of the region. Wetlands are highly populated with mangrove, tidal creeks and other vegetation caused by the transition into freshwater. The productive end of the coastal wetlands like Everglade provide an important function of maintaining the ecosystem at a specific zone. With the wetlands benefiting human beings directly, it also serves as home to fisheries and act as a storm inhibitor preventing the storms from surging and stabilizing the coastline. With the rise in the sea level, the sawgrass will be exposed to salinity. Abundance of salt water will eat away the saw grass in the famous “river of grass” and lower their population. According to ()salinity affects the sawgrass root growth significantly because it affects the soil structure and its organic inputs .Consequently, there is significant reduction in sawgrass regeneration from seeds due to the significant impact salinity has on sawgrass germination.

Sea level rise will lead to peat soil being destroyed, peat soil is important for the wetlands elevation. Everglades is covered with peat soils to a large extent. According to (), peat soils cover up to 85 percent of the bulk density on the lower end of Everglade. Therefore they are susceptible to collapse caused by varying reasons and circumstances. Most peat collapses are caused by soil structure collapse rom de-watering and an accelerated rate of decomposition within the root. Besides, an eminent collapse of the soil structure could result in subsequent loss of strength within the soil matric causing the surface soil components and materials to cave in and fall. With this, there is a subsequent loss in elevation within the coastline. Exposure to saline conditions also causes an increase in immense collapse of the organic soil peats within the coastline.() notes that the series of human activities and climate change are increasingly causing the creation of the collapse notion caused by channelization ,sea levels rise and an increase in freshwater diversion from its original paths. Besides, the collapse of soil peats within Everglade result in the exposure of fresh water to extremely salty conditions converting freshwater body masses into open water areas that could subsequently result in the damage of mangroves. Also, peat collapse within Everglade could result in the subsequent transition to open water sources and conditions causing the growth of salt tolerant vegetation and significant rise in Eco tonal boundaries.

Peat soil collapse could also result in reduction in soil elevation to appoint where no vegetation can reach or get established. With the reduction in elevation, open water sources could ultimately occur interrupting the ecosystem within Everglade and causing the development of embayment. To keep pace with the changes within Everglades, there is need for colonization of peat soil to help vegetation to keep growing and mineral sediments to be retained. Everglades is staring at a dark future where it could ultimately loss its wetland. Some of the notable factors that could result in the eventual collapse of pea soil include over-drainage within different areas resulting in other section drying up whereas organic matter is oxidized in the process. The other factor is the susceptibility of Florida to hurricane and storm. Such natural factors affect natural vegetation and expose the soil to other effects in the process.

Peat accumulation will lead to less carbon sequestration and erosion of land. Storms and hurricanes expose soil to erosion and oxidation that could ultimately cause the eventual collapse of vegetation and carbon sequestration. () notes that increasing salinity within the coastline causes the subsequent increase in carbon sequestration that stresses and kills the freshwater vegetation within the estuarine ecotone.

Sea level rise enables intrusion of mangroves. The distribution of different components of the ecosystem within Everglade are primarily based on the availability of nutrients, salinity and the depth of hydroperiod. Within the coastal line of Florida, different ecosystem species tend to be oriented within different zones based in their tidal creaks and tolerance to salinity within the ecosystem. The most prevalent vegetation within Everglades and the coastal line of Florida are mangroves. The coastal fringe is highly dominated within red, black and white mangroves which dominate the inlands as opposed to the coastal lines. Mangroves are naturally designed to withstand high salinity levels within the waterleaves and therefore tend to adapt automatically to the varying fluctuations within sea water levels and salinity. The existing ecotone zone helps differentiate and separate different mangroves from one that is able to withstand highly salinity levels to those that cannot withstand the high salinity levels. The existing boundary is maintained using the salinity change in gradient and different species within its ecosystem. Within Everglade, the mangroves within the south have less inland ecotone that is highly based on succulent halophytes.

The mangroves help accommodate rising sea levels. If the coastal region of Florida and the Everglade were to be parallel to the inland vegetation cover and layout, then the coastal and the sea areas would eventually submerge and give rise to storm surges and tidal flats. Therefore mangroves help prevent the collapse of peat-based soil nutrients and factors. Salinity continues to be a key driver of vegetation cover changes within the coast. () note that salinity changes and gradient within the coast are subject to changes based on seasons and gradient. For instance, dry seasons have always resulted in the increased growth and emergence of mangroves as opposed to sawgrass whose salinity levels tolerance is very low. Therefore increased salinity levels cause an increase in the replacement of saw grass with salt species. The increase in water levels also results in the subsequent increase in mangroves. This could ultimately result in the expansion of mangroves to inland areas migrating upward causing a reduction in protection within the coast. Also, the subsequent migration of mangroves inland could result in different implications on soil microbiology. Even though both sawgrass and mangroves allow for the retention of nutrients within the coastal region and soil, sawgrass provides and retains more nutrients as opposed to mangroves. The inland migration of mangroves due to the increased levels of salinity within the coastal Everglade region could also increase the risks of storm surges, hurricanes and light penetration for vegetation cover within Florida. Besides, mangroves affect the availability of nutrients and the rates of respiration within other plants.

Animal communities dependent on saw grass are changing in composition and function. Everglade is home to hundreds of different species that rely on sea grass bed as their main feed. Everglade is home to hundreds of animal species who rely on saw grass as their nesting area, Animals such as American crocodiles use saw grass as their year round nest. Other significant animals that rely on sawgrass as their nesting’s include ospreys, manatees and eagles. With the rise in sea levels within the region and area as a whole, Everglade will experience a lot of changes that could impose deeper impacts. The erosion of the coastline is an impending danger the coastline faces especially when you consider that the animals within the bay are sensitive to any climatic changes described herein. With the increasing levels of salinity and rising sea levels, many of these species are experiencing a change in their habitat causing their death or migration to other areas.

High salinity levels within Everglade have caused an increase in death among its inhabitants especially fish that can’t survive in salty water conditions and the subsequent die off of acres of sawgrass. The destruction of sawgrass results in the subsequent destruction of the habitats causing warmer temperatures and an increase in evaporation levels causing it to be inhabitable for aquatic life. Most of the animals cannot survive in such environments let alone live within such extreme weather conditions.

To address the issues of sea level rising within the coastal region of Florida, there is need for proper plans to be devised to help mitigate its effects and impacts on the ecosystem. There is need to restructure the restoration plan devised so that the health and the resilience of the natural ecosystem can be changed and enhanced. Also the restoration plan should capture ways in which rising sea levels and other changes can be changed to reduce the effects of global warming within the region. Even though different steps have been enforced to help mitigate the harm that is being caused to Everglade in Florida, massive pragma that focus on reforestation.

In conclusion, Everglades National park remains to be a gem within the south of Florida. A home to crocodiles, alligators and hundreds of other wildlife as well as important plants and aqua life like fish. It’s also the source of freshwater for the increasing population within South Florida. However what is home to many wildlife, sawgrass prairies is being threatened by human activities, climate change and global warming. Sea level rise will lead to peat soil being destroyed, peat soil is important for the wetlands elevation. Everglades is covered with peat soils to a large extent. According to (), peat soils cover up to 85 percent of the bulk density on the lower end of Everglade. Sea level rise enables intrusion of mangroves.

The distribution of different components of the ecosystem within Everglade are primarily based on the availability of nutrients, salinity and the depth of hydroperiod. Also, the subsequent migration of mangroves inland could result in different implications on soil microbiology. Even though both sawgrass and mangroves allow for the retention of nutrients within the coastal region and soil, sawgrass provides and retains more nutrients as opposed to mangroves. Animal communities dependent on saw grass are changing in composition and function. Everglade is home to hundreds of different species that rely on sea grass bed as their main feed. Everglade is home to hundreds of animal species who rely on saw grass as their nesting area, Animals such as American crocodiles use saw grass as their year round nest.

References

Aumen, N.G., Havens, K.E., Best, G.R. et al. Predicting Ecological Responses of the Florida Everglades to Possible Future Climate Scenarios: Introduction.Environmental Management 55, 741–748 (2015). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s00267-014-0439-z

• Bansal, S., Lishawa, S.C., Newman, S. et al. Typha (Cattail) Invasion in North American Wetlands: Biology, Regional Problems, Impacts, Ecosystem Services, and Management. Wetlands 39, 645–684 (2019). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s13157-019- 01174-7

• Catano, C.P., Romañach, S.S., Beerens, J.M. et al. Using Scenario Planning to Evaluate the Impacts of Climate Change on Wildlife Populations and Communities in the Florida Everglades. Environmental Management 55, 807–823 (2015). https://doiorg.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s00267-014-0397-5

• Chambers, L.G., Davis, S.E., Troxler, T. et al. Biogeochemical effects of simulated sea level rise on carbon loss in an Everglades mangrove peat soil. Hydrobiologia 726, 195–211 (2014). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10750-013-1764-6

• Charles, S.P., Kominoski, J.S., Troxler, T.G. et al. Experimental Saltwater Intrusion Drives Rapid Soil Elevation and Carbon Loss in Freshwater and Brackish Everglades Marshes. Estuaries and Coasts 42, 1868–1881 (2019). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s12237-019-00620-3

• Feher, L.C., Osland, M.J., Anderson, G.H. et al. The Long-Term Effects of Hurricanes Wilma and Irma on Soil Elevation Change in Everglades Mangrove Forests. Ecosystems 23, 917–931 (2020). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10021-019-00446-x

• Howard, R.J., From, A.S., Krauss, K.W. et al. Soil surface elevation dynamics in a mangrove-tomarsh ecotone characterized by vegetation shifts. Hydrobiologia 847, 1087–1106 (2020). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10750-019-04170-4

• Jiang, J., DeAngelis, D.L., Anderson, G.H. et al. Analysis and Simulation of Propagule Dispersal and Salinity Intrusion from Storm Surge on the Movement of a Marsh–Mangrove Ecotone in South Florida. Estuaries and Coasts 37, 24–35 (2014). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s12237- 013-9666-4

• Mazzotti, F. J., Smith, B. J., Squires, M. A., Cherkiss, M. S., Farris, S. C., Hackett, C., … Brandt, L. A. (2019). Influence of salinity on relative density of American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) in Everglades National Park: Implications for restoration of Everglades ecosystems. Ecological Indicators, 102, 608–616. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.03.002

• Nungesser, M., Saunders, C., Coronado-Molina, C. et al. Potential Effects of Climate Change on Florida’s Everglades. Environmental Management 55, 824–835 (2015). https://doiorg.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s00267-014-0417-5

• Pulido, C., Sebesta, N., & Richards, J. H. (2020). Effects of salinity on sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense Crantz) seed germination. Aquatic Botany, 166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2020.103277

• Romañach, S.S., Beerens, J.M., Patton, B.A. et al. Impacts of Saltwater Intrusion on Wetland Prey Production and Composition in a Historically Freshwater Marsh.Estuaries and Coasts 42, 1600– 1611 (2019). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s12237-019-00572-8

• Servais, S., Kominoski, J. S., Charles, S. P., Gaiser, E. E., Mazzei, V., Troxler, T. G., & Wilson, B. J. (2019). Saltwater intrusion and soil carbon loss: Testing effects of salinity and phosphorus loading on microbial functions in experimental freshwater wetlands. Geoderma, 337, 1291–1300. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.11.013

• Sirianni, M. J., & Comas, X. (2020). Changes in physical properties of Everglades peat soils induced by increased salinity at the laboratory scale: Implications for changes in biogenic gas dynamics. Water Resources Research, 56, e2019WR026144. https://doiorg.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1029/2019WR026144

• Willard, D.A., Bernhardt, C.E. Impacts of past climate and sea level change on Everglades wetlands: placing a century of anthropogenic change into a late-Holocene context. Climatic Change 107, 59 (2011). https://doi-org.ezproxy.fiu.edu/10.1007/s10584-011-0078-9

• Zhao, X., Rivera-Monroy, V. H., Wang, H., Xue, Z. G., Tsai, C. F., Willson, C. S., … Twilley, R. R. (2020). Modeling soil porewater salinity in mangrove forests (Everglades, Florida, USA) impacted by hydrological restoration and a warming climate. Ecological Modelling, 436. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2020.109292

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