Stabenau E.,South Florida Resources Center |
Engel V.,South Florida Resources Center |
Sadle J.,South Florida Resources Center |
Pearlstine L.,South Florida Resources Center
Park Science | Year: 2011
Everglades National Park, because of its flat landscape, is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of sea-level rise. The goal of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is to improve the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of freshwater to the greater Everglades region, primarily for habitat restoration purposes, yet this program may also provide reprieve from an adverse impact of sea-level rise: saltwater intrusion. We present here evidence that sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion are affecting the park with changes evident in the composition of coastal forest communities. Controlled experiments reveal species-based differences in the salinity tolerance of plants in the coastal community and suggest that climate change may alter the coastal ecology of the park. Furthermore, in some regions a common response to saltwater intrusion, upland migration, is not likely because of a lack of suitable habitat and, as a result, local ecological changes are probable. Park management is developing prioritized protection options for species and habitats at risk in light of climate change.