Introduction to the Gradient Studies
By 1989, the astounding expansion rate of cattail (Typha domingensis) due to phosphorus pollution was proclaimed to be the major environmental concern in the Everglades. The local media reported that 4 acres (1.6 ha) per day were being lost to cattail invasions and that native sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense) and open water sloughs would soon be gone due to eutrophication problems from upstream agriculture. With the loss of slough habitats would come a further decrease in habitat diversity and biodiversity. However, earlier ecological studies along phosphorus gradients in areas of WCA-2A (Gleason 1974b; Dineen 1974) had shown that ecological responses were also influenced by other ion additions such as Na, Ca, N, and S; thus, the shifts in species and changes in water and soil chemistry might not be totally attributed to P additions. Moreover, these additional ion inputs could confound any interpretation of biotic responses along the gradient. For this reason, Duke University researchers took special care to assess both nutrient enrichment gradients and unenriched areas when establishing baseline or reference conditions.
KeywordsTree Island Nutrient Stock Water Conservation Area Major Environmental Concern Cladium Jamaicense
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