5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Sean King
Session Name Springs IV - Temporal Dynamics
Author(s) Sean King,  Southwest Florida Water Management District (Presenting Author)
  Coastal Springs Restoration in a Changing Environment
  The Springs Coast region of Florida is known for four first-magnitude spring systems: Crystal River/Kings Bay, Homosassa River, Chassahowitzka River, and Weeki Wachee River. These spring systems have experienced substantial changes to their ecological drivers over the past century including nitrogen enrichment, riparian development, nuisance vegetation expansion, manatee population growth, recreational use, and sea-level rise. These changes tend to favor a plant community shift from macrophyte to algae dominance, which has been observed particularly for Crystal River/Kings Bay and Homosassa River. The Southwest Florida Water Management District is testing a variety of innovative restoration techniques to address these plant community shifts and their drivers. The Kings Bay Revegetation Project is underway as an experiment to re-establish desirable native aquatic vegetation primarily eelgrass (Vallisneria americana). This project will address key drivers that inhibit the re-establishment of the macrophyte-dominated state by deploying temporary herbivory exclusion barriers and managing filamentous algae and other nuisance species. The District is also evaluating the effects of sea-level rise on these coastal spring systems and the efforts to restore their ecology.