Phosphorus biogeochemistry and the impact of phosphorus enrichment: Why is the Everglades so unique?

Gregory B. Noe, Daniel L. Childers, Ronald D. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

277 Scopus citations


The Florida Everglades is extremely oligotrophic and sensitive to small increases in phosphorus (P) concentrations. P enrichment is one of the dominant anthropogenic impacts on the ecosystem and is therefore a main focus of restoration efforts. In this review, we synthesize research on P biogeochemistry and the impact of P enrichment on ecosystem structure and function in the Florida Everglades. There are clear patterns of increased P concentrations and altered structure and processes along nutrient-enrichment gradients in the water, periphyton, soils, macrophytes, and consumers. Periphyton, an assemblage of algae, bacteria, and associated microfauna, is abundant and has a large influence on phosphorus cycling in the Everglades. The oligotrophic Everglades is P-starved, has lower P concentrations and higher nitrogen-phosphorus (N:P) ratios, and has oxidized to only slightly reduced soil profiles compared to other freshwater wetland ecosystems. Possible general causes and indications of P limitation in the Everglades and other wetlands include geology, hydrology, and dominance of oxidative microbial nutrient cycling. The Everglades may be unique with respect to P biogeochemistry because of the multiple causes of P limitation and the resulting high degree of limitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-624
Number of pages22
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogeochemistry
  • Ecosystem
  • Eutrophy
  • Everglades
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Oligotrophy
  • Phosphorus
  • Wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology


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