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
Ecosystem: Lakes

Florida possesses nearly 8,000 lakes, making it one of the richest lake districts in the world. Most of Florida’s lakes owe their origin to dissolution and collapse of underlying limestone bedrock. Some are associated with extant or ancient river systems. Lake Okeechobee (~1770 km2) is the largest freshwater lake wholly within the boundaries of a single state. Several other large water bodies, with surface areas >100 km2, are Lakes George, Kissimmee, Apopka, and Istokpoga. Ironically, many of the large lakes are shallow, with maximum depths < 5 m. The deepest lakes, with maximum depths generally between 20 and 30 m, occupy relatively small sinkholes. Radiocarbon dates on sediment cores from Florida lakes indicate that shallow systems first filled with water in the early Holocene, about 8,000 years ago, when sea level rose and climate became warmer and wetter, following the last Ice Age. Cores also show that a few of Florida’s deepest lakes held water even during cold, dry Pleistocene times. Limnology in Florida is an interesting pursuit because of the diversity of lakes types. Our lakes display a wide range of values with respect to pH, alkalinity, conductivity (ion strength), chemical composition, dissolved color, and trophic status. This variability is reflected in the diverse flora and fauna of these aquatic ecosystems. Floridians use their lakes in many ways - for boating, fishing, swimming, hunting, and as sources of water for drinking and irrigation. These ecosystems also provide important habitat for wildlife. With increasing human population in the state, environmental problems in lakes have garnered more attention. Areas of concern include water quantity (lake level decline), eutrophication, acidification, and inputs of contaminants. Researchers at the University of Florida are addressing these problems and providing scientific information that is being used to develop sound, long-term management plans for Florida’s lakes.

Lakes Projects