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Productivity Paradox

FCE scientists revealed how human-induced nutrient enrichment in the Everglades and Caribbean wetlands affect the "productivity paradox" in which an extraordinarily high level of algal growth supports far fewer aquatic animal consumers than expected. Understanding this dynamic is critical to the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.

Gaiser, E.E., P. V. McCormick, Scot E. Hagerthey and A. D. Gottlieb. 2011. Landscape patterns of periphyton in the Florida Everglades. Environmental Science and Technology 41 (S1): In press.
Turner, A. M., J. C. Trexler, F. Jordan, S. J. Slack, P. Geddes, and W. Loftus. 1999. Targeting ecosystem features for conservation: Standing crops in the Florida Everglades. Conservation Biology 13: 898-911.
Sargeant, B., J. Trexler and E. Gaiser. 2010. Biotic and abiotic determinants of intermediate-consumer trophic diversity in the Florida Everglades. Marine and Freshwater Research. 61: 11-22.
Evelyn Gaiser
Joel Trexler
This graphic shows the effects of long-term phosphorus enrichment in Everglades wetlands. FCE scientists have shown that exposure to phosphorus at any level above background initiates a cascade of changes, from a loss of natural periphyton communities, to replacement by more palatable non-mat forming algae, then to an open-water state that eventually leads to the spread of invasive cattails.
Gaiser, E., J. Trexler and P. Wetzel. In Press. The Everglades. In Batzer, D. and A. Baldwin (eds). Wetland habitats of North America: Ecology and Conservation Concerns. Berkeley: University of California Press.
This graphic compares the biomass structure of the Everglades aquatic food web to other aquatic ecosystems, showing how the large mass of primary production in the Everglades (primarily periphyton) does not translate to a large mass of benthic invertebrates and fish, as would be expected from studies in other aquatic ecosystems.
Gaiser, E., J. Trexler and P. Wetzel. In Press. The Everglades. In Batzer, D. and A. Baldwin (eds). Wetland habitats of North America: Ecology and Conservation Concerns. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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