Freshwater Flow from the Everglades to Florida Bay: A Historical Reconstruction Based on Fluorescent Banding in The Coral Solenastrea Bournoni
Fluorescent banding was found in a core taken from a 1-m high colony of the coral Solenastrea bournoni which was growing in the Petersen Key Basin region of Florida Bay. Fluorescent banding in massive, hermatypic corals from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, is known to result from the input of fulvic and humic compounds of terrestrial origin into the nearshore environment via river runoff. Relationships between the fluorescent banding pattern in the Solenastrea skeleton and flow in Shark River Slough (SRS) and Taylor Slough (TS), the two major outlets of freshwater from the Everglades, were investigated. These relationships were then used to hindcast flow for the period 1881–1939. In hindcasting flow in SRS, 57.2% of the variance in annual flow could be recovered from the fluorescent record, based on the period 1961–1986. When the model was tested on a validation sample (known SRS flow for 1940–1960) approximately 45% of the interannual variation was explained. The fluorescence record shows a sustained, marked, decline which began about 1912 and ended around 1931. Fluorescence is significantly higher (P < 0.001) early in the record (pre 1932) than late in the record (1932 and later). Based on the significant relationship between fluorescence and SRS flow, this decrease is interpreted as recording decreased freshwater flow from the Everglades into Florida Bay and adjacent waters, perhaps by as much as 59%. The onset of decreased flow corresponds with the timing of construction of the extensive network of drainage canals to the east and south of Lake Okcechobee. These canals diverted water into the Atlantic Ocean which would normally have flowed into the Everglades from Lake Okcechobee.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1989
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