RESTORATION RESEARCH THEMES AND HYPOTHESES
Prepared by Robert F. Doren, Assistant Research Director, South Florida Natural Resources Center,
Everglades National Park, April 1, 1996.
The following concepts and questions about the research issues of HID restoration were developed by
the HID Technical Proposal Evaluation Committee and are provided as a starting point for developing the
framework research plan and program.
Do the newly created wetlands of the HID restoration project fall within the range of natural wetland
variability (structure and function) found within the Park? The various methods) available for making
this kind of assessment have to be explored. An important consideration is whether the proposed
methodology will allow us to answer the many research concerns and questions arising from the
One important factor in establishing research criteria is the permit requirement that the Park must
demonstrate successful mitigation, i.e., wetland restoration. The requirements are spelled out in the
permit under special conditions.
The flow diagram below, presented by Dan Childers, Florida International University, establishes a
foundation for understanding the interrelationships among biotic and abiotic components within the
HID ecosystem, specifically, and the Everglades ecosystem, generally. Temporal and spatial relationships
are not shown. The symbol "M" indicates microbial activity. This diagram was used solely to assist us in
developing questions that did not inadvertently omit ecological elements.
L..; waiaer& nulrinis maropowytes M
soinulrient | --- sail organic
Elermal inrtluknes: Topography
Childer ,Dan,1996. Diirba
HID RESTORATION CONCERNS AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS: A PRELIMINARY LIST
Structure and Function Interactions:
1. How are ecosystem structure and function related in newly created wetlands, and in
oligotrophic Everglades wetlands in general?
2. How important is spatial variability/heterogeneity in understanding the interaction of structure
and function in newly created wetlands?
3. How does whole-system productivity and energy flow change as these newly created wetlands
4. Are plant community "differences", i.e., species composition, cover, dominance, richness, etc.,
independent of function and state condition in newly created wetlands?
5. Are plant communities and associations structural representations of function and state
variables in newly created wetlands?
6. What is the desired wetland (and upland) structure and function for the restoration site?
7. How do the interactions of the biotic and abiotic factors, including disturbance, determine the
outcome of the restoration activity, and can the manipulation of the abiotic or biotic elements
of the area redirect the outcome in a particular (favorable?) way for a particular outcome?
Exotic Plant Establishment:
1. Do nutrients control Brazilian pepper or is it a combination of water and nutrients?
2. What is the interaction between elevation, hydrology, and nutrients in influencing survival and
persistence of Brazilian pepper?
3. In its native habitat, what controls Brazilian pepper spread and vigor (pests, diseases, browsers,
4. Are native or newly created wetlands more or less invasible by exotic pest plants, why, and what
makes them so?
1. Could the biological objectives of the restoration project be achieved without removing the
2. What role does the hydrologic regime play in achieving the biological objective of the
restoration project? Can the hydrologic regime be controlled?
3. How does the chemistry of rock plowed substrate differ from "native" (unaltered) soil? Can the
soil characteristics/chemistry be changed?
Vegetation Dynamics and Succession:
1. What are the characteristics of successional velocity and trajectory after soil removal and other
major soil disturbances in newly created wetlands?
2. Where do seeds come from during recolonization of newly created wetlands?
3. What determines change from an herbaceous to a wooded structure in newly created
4. How does the plant matrix affect the vegetation colonization pattern in newly created
5. How does soil (soil nutrients, soil organic content, bulk density, soil elevation, etc.) develop in
newly created wetlands, where there is no soil to begin with?
6. Is soil and/or water chemistry an adequate predictor of vegetation composition in newly created
wetlands? Is topography?
7. Are there any direct interactions between algae and macrophytes in newly created wetlands?
8. How does a change in the soil nutrient regime influence community structure in newly created
9. How dynamic is the mosaic of habitats found in the Everglades? Specifically, is there a
predictable transition probability matrix among habitats (or, alternatively, are they usually
relatively stable across long time intervals)?
10. If there is any dynamic transition between habitats in the Everglades, is it caused by fire, flood,
drought, hurricanes, or other influences?
11. Does lack of soil in rockland systems determine macrophytic species composition?
12. Does lack of phosphorus in aquatic systems determine macrophytic and microbial species
13. Are there threatened or endangered species that need to be accommodated in the restoration
14. What animal populations may be displaced, reintroduced or enhanced by the removal of
Brazilian pepper from the restoration site?