Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research
Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (LTER)

Map of the Florida Coastal Everglades LTER Program Study Area
Static map
Map of FCE LTER sites

Featured Videos

Electrofishing and Citizen Science
Jessica Lee talking to Everglades angler David Rose

See how Dr. Rehage's lab and CAST (Coastal Angler Science Team) work together to study snook and bass in Shark River, Everglades National Park.
Video courtesy of Richard S. Kern, Odyssey Earth

Flying over Shark River Slough
Aerial view of Shark River Slough from a helicopter

See the Everglades ridge and slough landscape from a helicopter
Video courtesy of David Lagomasino
The Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) LTER Program is part of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network established by the National Science Foundation in 1980. The FCE LTER Program was established in May of 2000 in south Florida, where a rapidly growing population of over 6 million people live in close proximity to - and in dependence upon - the Florida Everglades. The program is based at Florida International University and includes 86 senior scientists and 79 students from 29 institutions.

Research Focus
FCE research focuses on an area where freshwater and estuarine vegetation mix, or the "oligohaline ecotone". FCE researchers study how hydrology, climate, and human activities affect ecosystem and population dynamics in the ecotone and more broadly, the Florida Coastal Everglades.

  • Unique Nutrient Sources Unique Nutrient Sources 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.
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  • Food Webs Food Webs 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.
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  • Productivity Gradients in Mangroves Productivity Gradients in Mangroves 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.
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  • Blue Carbon Stored in Seagrass Blue Carbon Stored in Seagrass LTER researchers have found that seagrass ecosystems remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in below-ground soils. If seagrass ecosystems continue to be lost due to nutrient enrichment, coastline modifications and sea level rise, a globally significant amount of carbon could be lost to the atmosphere.
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  • Drought and Carbon Loss Drought and Carbon Loss Marshes typically absorb more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than they release, making them net sinks for carbon dioxide. FCE studies of carbon dynamics that included extended dry periods indicated an increase in carbon losses and alterations in greenhouse carbon balance (amount of CO2 sequestered/CH4 released). Anticipated increases in dry season duration driven by reduced water availability can switch the marsh from a carbon sink to a source, increasing contributions to atmospheric greenhouse gases.
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Featured Key Findings

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National Science Foundation logo This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1832229, #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Please address questions or comments about this website to: fcelter@fiu.edu.
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