Florida Bay contains 237 muddy islands with areas >100 m2 that comprise 1.73% of the total area. The geographic distribution of islands is uneven; they are least numerous in the western bay (0.76% of total area); most common in the central bay (2.89%) and intermediate
in the northeastern bay (1.88%). Principal islands habitats arc: 1) red and black mangrove swamps, 2) algal and halophyte marshes, 3) grass “prairies” and 4) hardwood-buttonwood hammocks. A hierarchical classification of islands consists of islands that contain only habitat 1)
mangrove swamps, 1) and 2), 1) through 3), and 1) through 4); these represent a developmental sequence. Islands are dynamic: habitats evolve, sometimes catastrophically, and islands migrate through erosion on more exposed margins and lateral accretion on protected margins. Cores from islands
show that some nucleated with transgression of the shoreline and persisted throughout the Holocene flooding of the bay, but others nucleated on mud banks later in the history of the bay. The stratigraphic history of islands bears no obvious relationship to the habitats now present on the islands.
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