florida ecosystems 2 upland aquatic ecosystems l.
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Florida Ecosystems 2: Upland & Aquatic Ecosystems. Dr. Peggy Green. Upland Ecosystems: High Pine. Longleaf , Virginia, Loblolly & Slash P. with open canopy & groundcover of grasses & herbs. •Fire dependent: maintained by low intensity fires every 1-15 yrs.

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upland ecosystems high pine
Upland Ecosystems:High Pine

Longleaf, Virginia,

Loblolly & Slash P.

with open canopy

& groundcover of

grasses & herbs

•Fire dependent: maintained by low intensity fires every 1-15 yrs.

•Predominant ecosystem in many areas of North FL

•Sandy, nutrient poor soil -- vital recharge area for aquifer

When fire is suppressed, hardwoods invade. What other services are provided by periodic ground fires?

•Trees can live 500 years & grow over 100 ft. tall, but 88% decline in last 50 yrs has left few virgin forests (heavily logged)

•Home to gopher tortoise, indigo snake,

red-cockaded woodpecker and other

threatened and endangered species.

Longleaf Pine

Gopher tortoise

  • Coastal & Inland
    • High Intensity fires
    • Sandy, nutrient-poor soil
    • Herbs, scrub oak, sand &

slash pine, saw palmetto

cacti, lichens

  • Lake Wales scrub oldest

ecosystem in FL

Coastal Scrub

Florida Scrub Jay

pine flatwoods
Pine Flatwoods

• Low, flat land dominated by pines (slash in S and longleaf in N)

•Sandy, poorly drained soil that is alternately very dry and very wet

•Periodic low intensity fires maintain the open canopy

•Harvested extensively for lumber, turpentine, or converted to pasture

dry prairie
Dry Prairie

Low, flat land dominated by

grasses with sandy, poorly

drained soil

Crested Caracara

•Often find over 200 species of

ground cover plants per acre

•Prairie grasses may live 50-100

yrs & develop extensive root

systems in soil rich in

earthworms and decomposers

Kissimmee Prairie

•Prairie must burn about every two

years or it will succeed to pineland

Prairie recently burned

Prairie - no recent burn

pine rockland open canopy of slash pine on limestone outcrops
Pine Rockland - open canopy of slash pine on limestone outcrops

•Found in Southern tip of state

and the Keys

•Similar to pine flatwoods, but

trees more widely scattered

and smaller in size

•Maintained by periodic fires;

fire suppression results in

succession to tropical hard-

wood hammock

hammocks tree islands hardwood forests found throughout fl
Hammocks - tree islands: hardwood forests found throughout FL

Temperate Hardwood Hammock

•Found in northern areas of FL

in areas protected from fires

•Dominant trees include live oak,

laurel oak, sabal palm, etc.

•Greatest diversity of trees

& shrubs of any ecosystem

in US

tropical hardwood hammocks
Tropical Hardwood Hammocks

Occur on outcrops of limestone

elevated slightly above surroundings

in southern part of the state: tree

islands in the Everglades, behind

the coastal strand, & in the Keys.

•Dense canopy creates a moist environment that’s cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter

•Resists burning by creation of moat and moist foliage & leaf litter

• Many orchids and bromeliads in the trees

• Very endangered ecosystem because of

development pressure

• Home to many threatened

& endangered species

Liguus tree snail

Red-bellied woodpecker

importance of wetlands
Importance of Wetlands

Fluctuating water level (sometimes absent at surface

but soil remains saturated

Plant roots must tolerate anaerobic conditions

  • Water purification
  • Water storage
  • Flood control
  • Climate control
  • Wildlife habitat

What is the importance of vernal pools?

freshwater marshes
Freshwater Marshes

•Wetlands - dominated by grasses

•Yearly fires clear areas for seed germination and provide ash that returns nutrients

•May be located in the floodplain of a river, around the edge of lakes, next to swamps or in vast basins of low, flat land.

immature ibis common gallinule
Immature ibis & common gallinule

A slough in the Everglades marsh


Tree-dominated wetlands with clean water &

diversity of mammals and birds, many epiphytes

Endangered woodstork

Bald cypress in wet season

Dry season


Swamp during wet season

showing many epiphytes

Cabbage palm (shown here)

along with red maple are found

with the bald cypress in S.

Florida swamps.


Note the buttressed trunks and

the knees of the cypress trees


Abundant in areas lacking rivers where

land is flat with basins that hold water.

• Most FL lakes are shallow & round -- formed by sinkholes filling with water.

•Marsh around edges filters the water

•Plankton form the base of the food chain & the benthic community recycles nutrients

Dynamics of lakes determined by inflow & outflow of chemicals from surrounding uplands & the atmosphere.
  • Human activities can degrade lakes:
    • Deforestation
    • Mining
    • Construction
    • Pollution discharge
    • Development of

homes/farms, etc.

    • Introduction of

invasive exotics

    • Air pollution

(acid rain)

Algae bloom caused by eutrophication

rivers springs
Rivers & Springs

Flowing Water Systems


Kissimmee River (channelized)

•Variables of rivers include: current, substratum, temperature, dissolved oxygen,

•Nutrient levels increase as

you go southward in the state.

Kissimmee River (restored)


• The channel of the river is the open water part.

• The floodplain is formed by the sediment deposited on

the sides where the river periodically overflows its banks.

Floodplain of a tributary of the Hillsborough River

The brown color of the Suwannee River is due to tannic acid from




•Florida has over 700

springs which typically

have crystal clear water

coming up from deep


Silver Springs

Manatee Springs


Unfortunately, nutrient overload (high concentrations of nitrogen & phosphorus containing compounds) have degraded the water quality of all aquatic systems, including springs.