Oct. 12, 2017
West Palm Beach, FL – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved a three-year research contract with Florida International University (FIU) to test a crucial Everglades restoration hypothesis in the District's Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment (LILA) facility in western Palm Beach County.
The university, which has been conducting scientific research for the District at the LILA facility for the past decade, will work with SFWMD staff to study important factors of how changes in water levels in the water conservation areas impact the ecology of tree islands including:
- How the accumulation of peat, or decomposing organic material, in the Everglades is impacted by frequent changes in water levels.
- The role water levels play in maintaining the natural landscape of ridges and sloughs and tree islands that make up much of the Everglades.
- How tree islands move and concentrate nutrients in their soil.
- How much tolerance tree islands species have for flooding.
- How ground water and surface water interact to support healthy vegetation in the Everglades.
"We are testing the hypothesis that year-to-year variability in water levels is actually needed to support a healthy wetland ecosystem," said Fred Sklar, SFWMD Scientist and Section Administrator of the Everglades System Assessment Unit. "We are testing whether more diversity in water levels leads to more diversity in habitat and how water levels determine if habitats can switch and becomes a slough instead of tree islands and ridges."