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Palynological reconstruction of environmental changes in coastal wetlands of the Florida Everglades since the mid-Holocene

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Qiang Yao*
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast and Environment, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Kam-biu Liu
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast and Environment, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
William J. Platt
Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Victor H. Rivera-Monroy
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast and Environment, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
*Corresponding author at: Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA. Fax: + 1 225 578 6423. E-mail (Q. Yao).


Palynological, loss-on-ignition, and X-ray fluorescence data from a 5.25 m sediment core from a mangrove forest at the mouth of the Shark River Estuary in the southwestern Everglades National Park, Florida were used to reconstruct changes occurring in coastal wetlands since the mid-Holocene. This multi-proxy record contains the longest paleoecological history to date in the southwestern Everglades. The Shark River Estuary basin was formed ~ 5700 cal yr BP in response to increasing precipitation. Initial wetlands were frequently-burned short-hydroperiod prairies, which transitioned into long-hydroperiod prairies with sloughs in which peat deposits began to accumulate continuously about 5250 cal yr BP. Our data suggest that mangrove communities started to appear after ~ 3800 cal yr BP; declines in the abundance of charcoal suggested gradual replacement of fire-dominated wetlands by mangrove forest over the following 2650 yr. By ~ 1150 cal yr BP, a dense Rhizophora mangle dominated mangrove forest had formed at the mouth of the Shark River. The mangrove-dominated coastal ecosystem here was established at least 2000 yr later than has been previously estimated.

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University of Washington

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