LTER: Coastal Oligotrophic Ecosystem Research Grant

LTER: Coastal Oligotrophic Ecosystem Research .


  • Coastal ecosystems like the Florida Everglades provide many benefits and services to society including protection from storms, habitat and food for important fisheries, support of tourism and local economies, filtration of fresh water, and burial and storage of carbon that offsets greenhouse gas emissions. The Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (FCE LTER) program addresses how and why coastal ecosystems and their services are changing. Like many coastal ecosystems, the Florida Everglades has been threatened by diversion of fresh water to support urban and agricultural expansion. At the same time, sea-level rise has caused saltwater intrusion of coastal ecosystems which stresses freshwater species, causes elevation loss, and contaminates municipal water resources. However, restoration of seasonal pulses of fresh water may counteract these threats. Researchers in the FCE LTER are continuing long-term studies and experiments to understand how changes in freshwater supply, sea-level rise, and disturbances like tropical storms interact to influence ecosystems and their services. The science team is guided by a diversity and inclusion plan to attract diverse scientists at all career stages. The team includes resource managers – who use discoveries and knowledge from the FCE LTER to guide effective freshwater restoration – and an active community of academic and agency scientists, teachers and other educators, graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. The project has a robust education and outreach program that engages the research team with the general public to advance science discoveries and protection of coastal ecosystems.The FCE LTER research program addresses how increased pulses of fresh and marine water will influence coastal ecosystem dynamics through: (i) continued long-term assessment of changes in biogeochemistry, primary production, organic matter, and trophic dynamics in ecosystems along freshwater-to-marine gradients with a focus on how these affect accumulation of carbon and related elevation change, (ii) meteorological studies that evaluate how the climate drivers of hydrologic presses and pulses are changing, (iii) social-ecological studies of how governance of freshwater restoration reflects the changing values of ecosystem services, and (iv) use of high-resolution remote sensing, coupled with models to forecast landscape-scale changes. A new experimental manipulation will determine drivers and mechanisms of resilience to saltwater intrusion. Data syntheses integrate month-to-annual and inter-annual data into models of water, nutrients, carbon, and species patterns and interactions throughout the Everglades landscape to compare how ecosystems with different productivities and carbon stores respond (maintain, increase, or decline) to short- (pulses) and long-term changes (presses) in hydrologic connectivity. Synthesis efforts will use data from national and international research networks aimed at understanding how chronic presses and increasing pulses determine ecosystem trajectories, addressing one of the most pressing challenges in contemporary ecology.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • March 1, 2021 - February 28, 2025

administered by

sponsor award ID

  • 2025954