Thrust Areas Ecosystem Water Institute Classification Level
Water, Land Use and Ecosystems Water and Climate Water and Society Water Resources Sustainability Springs Wetlands Watersheds Aquifers Lakes Coastal Zone  Water Institute Classification 1  Water Institute Classification 2  Water Institute Classification 3  Water Institute Classification 4

Collaborative Research: The Ecological Drill Hypothesis: Biotic Control on Carbonate Dissolution in a Low Relief Patterned Landscape
Goals and Objectives
Biological processes play an important but under-appreciated role in shaping the land. Indeed, in some places, plants and animals are the most important factors controlling variation in topography and thus patterns of habitats and hydrology on the land surface. This work explores the role of biology in shaping the land surface in Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY), a complex and beautiful mosaic of cypress wetlands, pine uplands and deep water sloughs in southwest Florida. BICY is a karst landscape, where limestone bedrock is present at the land surface. While the landscape is almost perfectly flat, small wetland depressions carved into the limestone rock are crucially important for storing water and thus providing habitat for a wide array of plants and animals. The origin of these wetland depressions is unknown. This research will determine if these depressions, and their remarkably regular spacing on the landscape, are created by biological processes that naturally occur in wetlands that accelerate the rate at which limestone dissolves. This creates the tantalizing possibility that the organisms populating these wetlands are slowly creating their own habitat by initiating and expanding topographic depressions. The research team consists of scientists across a variety of disciplines, including hydrologists, geologists, biologists and modelers, creating the type of collaborative integration required to answer these types of research questions. Combining satellite and airborne data with detailed field measurements will allow the team to address how and how fast these depressions form, what that means for regional water flow and water quality, and how the topography and resulting patterns of habitats on the land surface were created.
Project Lead
Cohen, Matthew J
Project Participants
Bianchi, Thomas S
Cohen, Matthew J
Martin, Jonathan Bowman
Level 2: WI Assisted Project
Water, Land Use and Ecosystems
Grant Award Dates
5/15/2014 to 4/30/2018