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The Everglades: Florida's Unique Landscape Of Change

2448 words - 10 pages

The Everglades is a diverse ecosystem located in southern Florida, yet urbanization has created a considerable amount of impact that has altered the physical landscape of the region, resulting in a symbiotic environment between humans and nature. Based on geographical research, the original Everglades spanned an area of approximately 12,000km2, and now because of urbanization and agricultural growth in this sub-region the area of the Everglades has been condensed to half of its original size (Willard et al 1-2). The Everglades is actually a sub-region of the Southern Coastlands region of the United States. It is comprised of a unique climate, divided into sub-provinces that create a diverse pallet of environments for wildlife to thrive, yet the impact of human modifications over a period of decades has drastically effected animal populations, and changed the functionality and physical landscape of its expanse. Despite the differences of urbanization and wildlife, major cities and the ecosystem of the Everglades thrive and fuse together to form the diversely changing landscape of the modern Everglades.
The Everglades may also be known as the river of grass because of its 80.5 kilometer (50 miles) wide girth and 161 kilometer (100 miles) long span, with the source of its freshwater coming from Lake Okeechobee just to the north (Tramontana and Johnson 1-2). The Everglades then continues to flow through the southernmost sandbars, mangrove islands, and the Florida Keys before emptying into the Florida Bay. This path creates a mix of saltwater, brackish, and fresh waterways that comprise the marshes and swamplands of this unique environment (Tramontana and Johnson 1-2). Transitions from wet and dry climates are the only seasonal changes undergone in the Everglades. From November thru April, the dry winter season is marked by cooler temperatures and limited precipitation, serving as an important breeding ground for many wildlife species. The hot summers for the rest of the year accumulate 80% of the regions rainfall that drastically differs in precipitation levels on a yearly basis (Tramontana and Johnson 1-2). Evapotranspiration (evaporation and transpiration from plants) and rainfall also circulate the water within the Everglades and power the frequent thunderstorms that the region encounters (Tramontana and Johnson 1-2). Seed dispersal, clearing additional space for plant development, and combining and mixing the low water levels aid in varying nutrient quantities and locations are ways that regular thunderstorms and hurricanes also serve the Everglades in a positive way (Tramontana and Johnson 1-2). Moss and peat layers also conceal a limestone plate that formed during the Pleistocene era of glaciers and an increased sea level deposited sediment between 1.8 million and 11,000 years ago (Tramontana and Johnson 1-2).

Figure. 1. A map of south Florida’s Everglades ecosystem. (Property of "Historical Everglades." Everglades Foundation. N.p.,...

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