The Everglades (Florida, USA) is one of the world's larger subtropical peatlands with biological communities adapted to waters low in total dissolved solids and nutrients. Detecting how the pre-drainage hydrological system has been altered is crucial to preserving its functional attributes. However, reliable tools for hindcasting historic conditions in the Everglades are limited. A recent synthesis demonstrates that the proportion of surface-water inflows has increased relative to precipitation, accounting for 33% of total inputs compared with 18% historically. The largest new source of water is canal drainage from areas of former wetlands converted to agriculture. Interactions between groundwater and surface water have also increased, due to increasing vertical hydraulic gradients resulting from topographic and water-level alterations on the otherwise extremely flat landscape. Environmental solute tracer data were used to determine groundwater's changing role, from a freshwater storage reservoir that sustained the Everglades ecosystem during dry periods to a reservoir of increasingly degraded water quality. Although some of this degradation is attributable to increased discharge of deep saline groundwater, other mineral sources such as fertilizer additives and peat oxidation have made a greater contribution to water-quality changes that are altering mineral-sensitive biological communities. ?? Springer-Verlag 2008.
Additional publication details
Groundwater's significance to changing hydrology, water chemistry, and biological communities of a floodplain ecosystem, Everglades, South Florida, USA