William J. Mitsch
Everglades Wetland Research Park
Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management
110 Kapnick Center
Florida Gulf Coast University
4940 Bayshore Drive
Naples Florida 34112 USA
+1 239 325 1365
Research is a primary focus of the Everglades Wetland Research Park. In the future, we expect to have many faculty, postdocs, graduate students, student interns, and staff frequenting the offices and labs of the beautiful new Kapnick Center doing research that is key to the survival of our ecosystems and indeed our planet. Several research projects are already active at the EWRP in 2012 are listed here.
This study, begun with a contract to The Ohio State University from the South Florida Water Management District and now continuing at Florida Gulf Coast University, is focused on estimating the efficacy of different wetland plant communities for reducing phosphorus input into the Florida Everglades. This project is a part of the overall Everglades Restoration where 40,000 acres of wetlands, called Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs), have been created at former sugar farms that had, in turn, replaced wetlands decades ago. It is especially important that we learn if certain types of wetland communities (habitats) are better than others in reducing phosphorus inputs to the Florida Everglades, thus reducing the invasion of plants such as Typha (cattails) from taking over the native Cladium (sawgrass) in the Everglades “river of grass.”
Support: South Florida Water Management District and Everglades Wetland Research Park
Corkscrew Swamp - considered by some to be one of the world’s most majestic wetlands and now designated as the 30th Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in the USA - was chosen as a convenient site for comparing different wetland ecosystems in the Everglades—sawgrass marshes, bald cypress swamps, pond cypress swamps, and pine flatwoods—for their ability to sequester climate-changing carbon emitted from cars and fossil-fuel power plants into permanent soil storage as well as for their emissions of the greenhouse gas methane. These measurements will ultimately help to estimate the net effect of wetland ecosystems such as those at Corkscrew in the cooling or warming of the planet.
Support: Colombia international graduate student support administered by LASPAU; Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; and Everglades Wetland Research Park
Created wetlands may or may not contribute to climate change because they both sequester carbon but also emit the greenhouse gas methane. Studies of methane emissions begun in 2003 at the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park will continue through 2014, aided by large-scale methane emission estimates from an eddy covariance tower created at this site. A companion flow-through created wetland site in Florida will be chosen to give results a wider latitudinal application.
Support: National Science Foundation
Opportunities are being explored for establishing a tidal creek restoration “living laboratory” on Naples Bay south of the Naples Botanical Garden to monitor the long-term effects of the restore on the function of mangrove wetland ecosystem along the creek. The mangrove area that would be affected along the tidal creek is over 50 acres in size and it would be reconnected to Naples Bay after the restoration. We have already installed a water quality monitoring system upstream of the restoration site in the Naples Botanical Garden (NBG) that is recording water elevation, salinity and water quality since mid-2012 [See Spartina Marsh in Real-time Data on this web page; http://www.fgcu.edu/swamp/realtimedata.html]. We are also beginning measurements of methane emissions and carbon sequestration in these wetlands. We are also investigating, with mathematical models and other approaches, the water quality and ecological effects of connecting the mangroves with Naples Bay.
Support: Everglades Wetland Research Park; Minto Communities Florida; The Ohio State University