1. Unique Nutrient Sources
2. Food Webs
FCE scientists discovered that, unlike in most coastal areas, the natural source of
phosphorus (the nutrient that limits ecosystem productivity) for coastal Caribbean estuaries
is seawater, not inland environments. This important finding has ramifications for both
restoration and conservation and is informing decision making in coastal areas.
3. Productivity Paradox
FCE scientists discovered that decomposing plant material, rather than the plants
themselves, supports the freshwater food web. When exported to coastal waters, this
material also supports substantial marine plant and animal life.
4. Productivity Gradients in Mangroves
FCE scientists revealed how human-induced nutrient enrichment in the Everglades and
Caribbean wetlands affect the "productivity paradox" in which an extraordinarily high level
of algal growth supports far fewer aquatic animal consumers than expected. Understanding
this dynamic is critical to the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.
5. Communication to Policymakers
FCE researchers have found significant spatial differences in mangrove productivity; from
riverine mangrove forests with productivity rates similar to tropical rain forests to low
structure scrub mangroves that grow in nutrient-poor environments. Mangrove forests growth
and survival are greatly influenced by the impacts and legacies of hurricanes, sea-level
rise, and human impacts along coastal areas.
Collaborating with agency scientists, FCE scientists developed an effective communication tool for
directly informing the U.S. Congress and other decision makers about the science of Everglades