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

  • Qiang Yao (a1), Kam-biu Liu (a1), William J. Platt (a2) and Victor H. Rivera-Monroy (a1)
Abstract

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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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author at: Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA. Fax: + 1 225 578 6423. E-mail address: qyao4@tigers.lsu.edu (Q. Yao).
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