, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 258–271 | Cite as

Response of everglades plant communities to nitrogen and phosphorus additions

  • Christopher B. Craft
  • Jan Vymazal
  • Curtis J. Richardson


Nitrogen(N) and phosphorus(P) were applied to sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), mixed sawgrass-cattail (Typha domingensis), and slough (shallow water communities dominated byUtricularia spp.,Eleocharis spp., andPanicum spp.) communities in the Everglades for two years to test for N or P limitations and to investigate the plant community response. Nitrogen (as NH4 +) and P (as PO4 3−) were applied singly and in combination at rates of 0.6, 1.2, and 4.8 g P · m−2·yr−1 and 5.6 and 22.4 g N·m−2·yr−1. Plant response was quantified by measuring aboveground standing crop biomass and tissue N and P concentrations each year. Everglades plant communities are P limited. Phosphorus additions at the highest rate (4.8 g·m2-yr−1) resulted in increased P uptake and biomass production by emergent vegetation. Tissue P concentrations of sawgrass and cattail were significantly higher in response to the high P (329–684 μg·g−1) and high N+P (371–594 μg·g−1) treatments (control=94–256 μg·g−1) in both years after the initiation of nutrient additions. Aboveground biomass also increased in response to the highest rat of P at the sawgrass (2618–3284 g/m2; control=1158 g/m2) and mixed (1387–1407 g/m2; control=502 g/m2) communities, but only after two years. At the slough site, the high P and high N+P treatments resulted in a significant decline of theUtricularia periphyton mat after only one year of nutrient additions (16–74 g·m2−; control=364 g·m−2). During the second year, the macroalga,Chara, expanded in these plots and replaced the floating mat as the major nonemergent component of the plant community. In all three communities, P additions at the highest rate resulted in a significant increase in bicarbonate-extractable and total soil P (0–5 cm depth). There was no effect of N additions on biomass production, nutrient uptake, or N enrichment of the peat during the two-year study. We observed no significant change in macrophyte species diversity or expansion of cattail in plots receiving nutrient additions during the two year study. However, the decline of theUtricularia-periphyton mat (and the subsequent increase inChara) in slough plots receiving 4.8 g P·m−2·yr−1 may serve as an early indicator of P enrichment in the Everglades.

Key Words

Chara Cladium jamaicense eutrophication Florida Everglades nitrogen nutrient limitation periphyton phosphorus slough communities Typha domingensis 


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher B. Craft
    • 1
  • Jan Vymazal
    • 1
  • Curtis J. Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.Duke University Wetland Center School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurham

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