Heterogeneity of phosphorus distribution in a patterned landscape, the Florida Everglades

Paul R. Wetzel, Arnold G. Van Der Valk, Susan Newman, Carlos A. Coronado, Tiffany G. Troxler-Gann, Daniel L. Childers, William H. Orem, Fred H. Sklar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The biologically mediated transfer of nutrients from one part of a landscape to another may create nutrient gradients or subsidize the productivity at specific locations. If limited, this focused redistribution of the nutrient may create non-random landscape patterns that are unrelated to underlying environmental gradients. The Florida Everglades, USA, is a large freshwater wetland that is patterned with tree islands, elevated areas that support woody vegetation. A survey of 12 tree islands found total soil phosphorus levels 3-114 times greater on the island head than the surrounding marsh, indicating that the Florida Everglades is not a homogeneous oligotrophic system. It was estimated that historically 67% of the phosphorus entering the central Everglades was sequestered on tree islands, which are ∼3.8% of the total land area. This internal redistribution of phosphorus onto tree islands due to the establishment of trees may be one reason that marshes have remained oligotrophic and may explain the spatial differentiation of the patterned Everglades landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Meta-ecosystem
  • Nutrient redistribution
  • Restoration
  • Tree islands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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