Everglades Flooded Grasslands

About the Area

Lying between temperate and subtropical America, between fresh and brackish water, between shallow bays and deeper coastal waters, the Florida Everglades have a diverse range of habitats.
This is one of the world's only rain-fed flooded grasslands on limestone and North America's most extensive flooded grassland. The Everglades is also one of nature's most efficient water treatment systems where plants filter pollutants out of the slow-moving water, delivering cleaner water to the Florida Bay, the Florida Keys, and nearby coral reefs.

Local Species
The region contains some 11,000 species of seed-bearing plants, 25 varieties of orchids, both tropical (palms) and temperate (oak) tree species, and even such desert plants as cactus and yucca. Also found here are 323 bird species, 150 fish species, and 400 species of land and water vertebrates, 36 of which are endangered.

Selecetd species include the Schaus' swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus) - an endangered butterfly formerly distributed here but currently found only in the Florida Keys, Florida tree snail (Liguus fasciatus), the endangered Florida panther or cougar (Felis concolor coryii), and the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).

Among the many bird species are Snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), Short-tailed hawk (Buteo brachyurus), Swallow-tailed kite (Elanoides forficatus), and the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus). Waterbirds include roseate spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Limpkin (Aramus guarauna), Wood stork (Mycteria americana), and the White ibis (Eudocimus albus).

Threats
Far less fresh water reaches Florida Bay, and what reaches is polluted. The health of the Everglades depends on large quantities of fresh water flowing through the region and out to the Florida Bay. Much of this water has been diverted, though, to convert wetlands to agriculture, such as sugar cane, and to provide flood control for coastal cities; pollution from farms and cities has also increased.

This kills and harms sea grasses, sponges, corals, mangroves, sea trout, redfish, pink shrimp, and spiny lobster fisheries. Dense growths of algae are turning parts of the once clear Florida Bay into a murky green soup.

Due to the lower water levels and changes in the ecosystem in the Everglades, the population of wading birds in the Everglades had been reduced by 90 percent. Cattails are now abundant due to nutrients in waters from agricultural runoff. Introduced plants, such as Melaleuca, a shrub from Australia, are also a serious problem.

Resources

Size:
20,000 sq. km (8,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Flooded Grasslands and Savannas

Geographic Location:
North America: Southern tip of the Florida peninsula

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable

Quiz Time!

What are the American Alligators known to do in the dry season?

Answer:
American alligators build mounds of vegetation for their eggs and excavate gator holes during the dry season that become microhabitats and watering holes for many other species!

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