FCE LTER II: Coastal oligotrophic ecosystems research Grant

FCE LTER II: Coastal oligotrophic ecosystems research .


  • Approximately 50% of the U.S. population lives within 80 km of a coast. As human populations proximal to coasts increase, demands for the natural resources and services that coastal ecosystems provide will also grow, further stressing these ecosystems. The Florida Coastal Everglades LTER (FCE) is an excellent laboratory for understanding how coastal ecosystem dynamics respond to, and influence, human activities. Oligotrophy is a defining characteristic of FCE, and the estuaries of the study area are biogeochemically upside down because the source of limiting nutrients is the ocean, not the watershed. The conceptual approach for FCE II is evolutionary, with emphases on oligohaline ecotone dynamics; hydrologic, climatological, and human drivers that affect those dynamics; and processes that regulate biophysical inputs to the ecotone from upstream freshwater Everglades marshes and the estuary proper. The overarching theme of FCE II follows this evolution of ideas: In the coastal Everglades landscape, population and ecosystem-level dynamics are controlled by the relative importance of water source, water residence time, and local biotic processes. This phenomenon is best exemplified in the oligohaline ecotone, where these factors interact most strongly and vary over many temporal and spatial scales. FCE will continue tracking the flow of water from canals to the ocean along two transects in Everglades National Park. Several new initiatives include new research hydrology (particularly groundwater hydrology) and human dimensions. Everglades Restoration is the experimental, BACI-style template for FCE; in this next round of funding a major restoration project will remove a key levee at the head of one of the transects. This grand experiment will cause a considerable increase in freshwater flow to only one transect, and central hypotheses are directed at understanding the results of this major change.FCE II will continue its close involvement with the many existing modeling efforts in south Florida to avoid redundancies and will expand its dynamic budget simulation modelling to the ecotone regions, thus filling a critical between-ecosystem simulation gap. Finally, FCE II will continue to carefully balance continuity (critical to any successful long-term program) with support for new ideas and initiatives by expanding program leadership to include both FCE I PIs and rising star junior faculty.FCE is based at FIU, a majority-minority public university that is one of the largest Hispanic-serving institutions in the U.S. The FCE student group is large, active, and diverse. The FCE K-12 program, in which 89% of all students impacted are Hispanic, will be strengthened by including new high school curriculum development and enhanced mentoring. Outreach to the South Florida community (which is over 60% Hispanic) will become fully bilingual. The user-friendly, information-rich FCE website will continue to be the primary outreach portal. FCE II will further the goal of linking FCE science with Everglades Restoration to provide reliable, continuous and growing knowledge transfer from basic ecological theory to the development of more effective environmental management and restoration/rehabilitation programs.

date/time interval

  • December 1, 2006 - November 30, 2013

sponsor award ID

  • 0620409