Stressors of the Everglades (by Bianca)

Urban and Environmental Threats to the Everglades

Humans are viewed as an integral part of ecosystems rather than separate from them; there are no ecosystems left on the planet that are unaffected by human activities. It is useless and a waste of time to think that any part of the environment will remain unchanged by any of the 7 billion humans on earth. (Not even inhospitable areas like the
poles are exempt.)

In the Everglades and other coastal areas, some of the worst stressors are the destruction of wetlands, hydrologic and climatic changes, increase of contaminants, and introduction of invasive species.

Not pictured: invasive species. Look how pretty it is without those jerks.

The destruction of wetlands obviously poses a huge problem – remember when they tried to stopper up the wetlands in New Jersey in order to build upon it? The wetlands act as a drainage system to the rivers into the oceans – there was massive flooding everywhere, and filth backing up into proposed planning sites (at this time there were looser laws on environmental cleanup; there was lots of trash in that filth). Without such a drainage system, Florida stands in great risk of what happened in Jersey.

As for hydrologic and climactic changes, Florida’s Everglades may suffer from: lower groundwater, a lower flow rate, change in depths, a higher salinity rate, and a rise in sea levels.

Due to mostly runoff (in what is a essentially a giant filter to the ocean), there are certain contaminants present. Pesticides seem to be a big issue, among other chemicals, such as mercury.

Along with these chemical dangers come invasive species, like certain fish and even the cattail. (See Shirley’s blog for the ill effects of an invasive species).

As quoted from an essay,

“All five of the major ecological stressors acting on the ridge
and slough systems (reduced spatial extent, the introduction and spread of
degraded water, reduced water storage capacity, compartmentalization, and the
introduction and spread of exotic species) have had part or all of their origins
in water management practices. Major objectives of water management have
included water supply and flood control, which have been achieved by means of a
complex system of structural and operational modifications to the natural
system. These modifications have 1) contributed to the substantial reduction in
spatial extent, 2) provided a network of canals and levees that have
accelerated the spread of degraded water and exotic species, 3) greatly reduced
the water storage capacity within the remaining natural system, 4) created an
unnatural mosaic of impounded and overdrained marshes in the water conservation
areas, and 5) substantially disrupted natural patterns of sheet flow direction,
location and volume . “

That sums it up in a concise way; all those problems stem from poor water management. That one aspect causes a domino effect to the amount of potential devastation that may be irreparable, in an area of the world where very unique species live.

Hear that? Just manage ALL of this. No problem, right?

“Greater
Everglades Research Initiative.” Environmental Sciences Program, Online Posting
to Florida Atlantic University. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.
http://www.science.fau.edu/biology/envirosci/conceptualmodel.html.

Ogden, John C. United States. South Florida Water Management District. EVERGLADES
RIDGE AND SLOUGH CONCEPTUAL ECOLOGICAL
. 2003. Web.
http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/recover/recover_docs/cerp_monitor_plan/map_app_a_ever.pdf.

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