5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Elliott White Jr.
Session Name Poster Session - Coastal Waters
Poster Number 17
Author(s) Elliott  White Jr.,  Watershed Ecology Lab (Presenting Author)
  David  Kaplan,  University of Florida
  Beth  Middleton, USGS National Wetlands Research Center
  Investigating the Impacts of Chronic Low-level Salinity on the Productivity and Resilience of Coastal Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) Swamps
  Both natural and anthropogenic drivers are increasing saltwater intrusion (SWI) in coastal wetlands. Natural drivers of SWI include: hurricanes, droughts, and sea-level rise (SLR). These natural drivers have synergistic effects with anthropogenic drivers such as: river modification, groundwater and surface water abstraction, and land use change. This project examines changes in the groundwater salinity of coastal baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamps and its relationship to forest productivity. Long-term groundwater salinity data are being collected via automated conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) sensors installed in shallow groundwater wells at each site. Currently, there are 17 wells installed at 12 sites in three locations around the Gulf of Mexico. Sensors are programmed to collect data every 15 minutes and sites will be monitored over a 30-month period. The biological data is being collected by the lab of Dr. Beth Middleton. The techniques used to collect the data include: dedrometer bands on baldcypress trees, litterfall traps, root in-growth bags, canopy pictures, and soil elevation tables (SETs). The hydrologic and water quality data collected will be used as explanatory factors for observed biological data. The goal of this project is to produce a model. Model outputs will include maps of projected habitat based on different climate change, SLR, and local water management scenarios. This information is critical to understanding the future of coastal freshwater forests globally and whether areas are worth restoring or retreating from.