Controls on herbaceous litter decomposition in the estuarine ecotones of the Florida Everglades

Gustavo Rubio, Daniel Childers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The effects of nutrient availability and litter quality on litter decomposition were measured in two oligotrophic phosphorus (P)-limited Florida Everglades esturies, United States. The two estuaries differ, in that one (Shark River estuary) is directly connected to the Gulf of Mexico and receives marine P, while the other (Taylor Slough estuary) does not receive marine P because Florida Bay separates it from the Gulf of Mexico. Decomposition of three macrophytes. Cladium jamaicense, Eleochaaris spp., and Juncus roemerianus, was studied using a litter bag technique over 18 mo. Litter was exposed to three treatments: soil surface+macroinvertebrates (=macro), soil surface without macroinvertebrates (=wet), and above the soil and water (=aerial). The third treatment replicated the decomposition of standing dead leaves. Decomposition rates showed that litter exposed to the wet and macro treatments decomposed significantly faster than the aerial treatment, where atmospheric deposition was the only source of nutrients. Macroinvertebrates had no influence on litter decompostion rates. C. jamaicense decomposed faster at sites, with higher P, and Eleocharis spp. decomposed significantly faster at sites with higher nitrogen (N). Initial tissue C:N and C:P molar ratios revealed that the nutrient quality of litter of both Eleocharis spp. and J. roemerianus was higher than C. jamaicense, but only Eleocharis spp. decomposed faster than C. jamaicense. C. jamaicense litter tended to immobilize P, while Eleocharis spp. litter showed net remineralization of N and P. A comparison with other estuarine and wetland systems revealed the dependence of litter decomposition on nutrient availability and litter quality. The results from this experiment suggest that Everglades restoration may have an important effect on key ecosystem processes in the estuarine ecotone of this landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Cladium mariscus subsp. jamaicense
ecotones
ecotone
Eleocharis
litter
decomposition
Juncus roemerianus
degradation
macroinvertebrates
estuaries
Gulf of Mexico
nutrient availability
macroinvertebrate
atmospheric deposition
nutrients
sharks
estuary
soil treatment
macrophytes
bags

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

Cite this

Controls on herbaceous litter decomposition in the estuarine ecotones of the Florida Everglades. / Rubio, Gustavo; Childers, Daniel.

In: Estuaries and Coasts, Vol. 29, No. 2, 04.2006, p. 257-268.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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