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.
Dr. Peggy Green
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?
•Home to gopher tortoise, indigo snake,
red-cockaded woodpecker and other
threatened and endangered species.
slash pine, saw palmetto
ecosystem in FL
Florida Scrub Jay
• 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
Low, flat land dominated by
grasses with sandy, poorly
•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
years or it will succeed to pineland
Prairie recently burned
Prairie - no recent burn
•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-
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
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
• Very endangered ecosystem because of
• Home to many threatened
& endangered species
Liguus tree snail
Fluctuating water level (sometimes absent at surface
but soil remains saturated
Plant roots must tolerate anaerobic conditions
What is the importance of vernal pools?
•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.
A slough in the Everglades marsh
Tree-dominated wetlands with clean water &
diversity of mammals and birds, many epiphytes
Bald cypress in wet season
showing many epiphytes
Cabbage palm (shown here)
along with red maple are found
with the bald cypress in S.
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
Algae bloom caused by eutrophication
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 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
Unfortunately, nutrient overload (high concentrations of nitrogen & phosphorus containing compounds) have degraded the water quality of all aquatic systems, including springs.