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Watershed Management Lab

Hydrology and Water Chemistry in Wet Prairies

Encroachment of woody vegetation in wetlands can have profound impacts on plant communities as well as the hydrologic and chemical characteristics of the systems they drain into. We are working in Deer Lake State Park to examine how the expansion of woody vegetation has affected groundwater levels and groundwater chemistry in wet prairies, and the streams that flow into coastal dune lakes.

Project Summary 

Decades of fire suppression has allowed dense woody shrubs such as Cliftonia species (shown above) to replace herbaceous biologically diverse wetlands throughout coastal Florida. We're partnering with Atlanta Botanical Garden on their project to restore wetlands through removing this dense woody vegetation to evaluate the hydrologic and water chemistry changes that restoration causes.

We are regularly taking water level measurements and water samples from shallow groundwater for chemical analysis to examine how restoration actions influence groundwater chemistry and hydrology. The photo below shows a section of restored wetland that has been scraped to the mineral layer below organic matter accumulation.