We studied species composition and individual abundance of copepods in the surficial aquifer northeast of Everglades National Park. We identified the spatial distribution of subsurface habitats by assessing the depth of the high porosity layers in the limestone along a canal system, and we used copepods to assess the exchange between surface water and ground water along canal banks, at levels in the wells where high porosity connections to the canals exist. Surface- and ground-water taxa were defined, and species composition was related to areal position, sampling depth, and time. Subsurface copepod communities were dominated by surface copepods that disperse into the aquifer following the groundwater seepage along canal L-31N. The similarities in species composition between wells along canal reaches, suggest that copepods mainly enter ground water horizontally along canals via active and passive dispersal. Thus, the copepod populations indicate continuous connections between surface- and ground waters. The most abundant species were Orthocyclops modestus, Arctodiaptomus floridanus, Mesocyclops edax, and Thermocyclops parvus, all known in literature from surface habitats; however, these species have been collected in ground water in ENP. Only two stygophiles were collected: Diacylcops nearcticus and Diacyclops crassicaudis brachycercus. Restoration of the Everglades ecosystem requires a mosaic of data to reveal a complete picture of this complex system. The use of copepods as indicators of seepage could be a tool in helping to assess the direction and the duration of surface and ground water exchange.
Additional publication details
Copepod communities from surface and ground waters in the everglades, south Florida