3rd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Mary Szafraniec
Session Name Posters - Hydroecology
Category Ecology
Poster Number 14
Author(s) Mary  Szafraniec,  University of Florida (Presenting Author)
  Light Availability in Florida Spring Ecosystems
  Light availability is a major forcing factor for spring ecosystem productivity and sustainability. Over the years, water clarity has decreased in many spring-fed rivers in Florida. Factors controlling the loss of water clarity and light availability are poorly defined in Florida spring ecosystems. The objective of this study is to understand the causes of increased light attenuation in the water column by measuring the quantity and quality of light available to primary producers (submerged aquatic vegetation, epiphytes, and benthic algae) in spring fed-rivers. Optical water quality determines the underwater light field that provides the basis for habitat suitability, in terms of vegetation abundance, distribution, and survival in spring ecosystems. This study will focus on assessing the quality of light, i.e. the spectral distribution and potential limitation of wavelength-specific photosynthetically active radiation [PAR (λ)] by estimating the percent blue, green and red light available to primary producer communities in Rainbow Springs and River. Optical properties of the underwater light field are currently being assessed to determine the relative magnitude and contribution of key water clarity driving components. The resulting underwater spectral light field characteristics will be used to establish relationships with the primary producer community structure in the Rainbow Springs ecosystem.