Workshop

BSC 6926 Workshop Biology: Ecosystem Ecology in the Greater Everglades
Landscape
Instructor: John Kominoski – office OE 207; 305.348.7117; jkominos@fiu.edu

Overview: This 1-2 credit workshop will introduce students to distinct, yet hydrologically
connected ecosystems of the Greater Everglades. The course will include field sample
collection, laboratory processing, and data analyses. Sites visited include: Archbold
Biological Station, Water Conservation Area – 3A, Everglades National Park, and Florida
Bay Interagency Science Center. The workshop will consistent of three modules that
include: 1) three 1-2 day field components (weekend) that focus on three locations along
the North-South landscape gradient, and 2) two half-day data analysis and interpretation
components held at the mid-term and end of the semester (date/location TBD).

Module 1 (Northern Everglades Ecosystems): Located along the Lake Wales Ridge of
South-Central Florida, this endangered and unique Florida scrub landscape that adapted
to disturbance and stochastic events (droughts, fire). A long-term regime of managed fire
and a recent impact of feral hog rooting require monitoring and ecosystem assessment.
Students will aid in field collections and measurements in temporary wetlands at the
Archbold Biological Station. Specific measurements will include (but are not limited to):
wetland plant density, biomass, and composition, water depth, water temperature, soil
organic matter content, and sediment oxygen demand in response to hog rooting and fire
regimes in Florida scrub wetlands. Students will be required to travel to Archbold
Biological Station for a full Saturday and Sunday of field and lab work. Lodging and
facility use fees apply.
This module will assess how community assembly changes with disturbance and affect
aspects of ecosystem functioning.

Module 2 (Central Everglades Ecosystems): Located in the heart of the Everglades, this region was formally dominated by sawgrass ridge and slough habitats containing both
open water and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Sloughs have a lot of SAV retain
more flocculent organic matter (floc). That floc concentrates in the water column based
on SAV density and seasonal hydrology (during dry season there’s less water depth but
similar amount of floc). Students will collect data that support ongoing research that
investigates how floc patterns and environmental conditions in ridge and slough habitats
drive aquatic ecosystem metabolism. The workshop will consist of a 1-day field
component that involves a 3-mile, round-trip canoe paddle (or airboat ride, fees may
apply), followed by a 1-day laboratory component at FIU-MMC. Students will be
required to travel to the field site in their own vehicle (carpooling will be established).
This module will assess how plant density, light, and organic matter availability influence
various aspects of ecosystem metabolism.

Module 3 (Southern Everglades & Florida Bay Ecosystems): The Southern Everglades is most vulnerable to sea-level rise (SLR) and coastal storms that determine the balance of marine and freshwater supplies to these ecosystems. Marine phosphorus (P) and salinity likely affect C storage in wetlands through direct effects on plant and microbial
communities. Ongoing field and mesocosm research is testing the effects of salinity and P
on soil and plant C in various wetland types. Students will help collect and analyze data
that support this ongoing research, as well as be able to explain how to integrate data
collected across different spatial and temporal scales. This workshop will consist of a 1-
day field and a 1-day mesocosm and lab component at the Florida Bay Interagency
Science Center, Key Largo, Florida. Students will be required to travel to the field site in
their own vehicle (carpooling will be established). Lodging is provided free-of-charge to
FIU students.
This module will assess how basic ecosystem subsidy-stress models can be used to inform autotrophic and heterotrophic response pathways to P and salinity exposure at multiple spatial scales.

Class Notes
Purpose: Enhance skills related to collection, graphing, analysis, and interpretation of
ecosystem-level data. Prior to the field component of each module, students will
read 1-2 foundational papers related to the focal ecosystem and related research
questions to give them a basis for the research questions being tested.

Pedagogy: Workshop will contain a balance of field, on-campus data analysis/interpretation workshops, and out-of-class reading and work. All students will participate in the collection and archiving of data. Students must select which datasets they will analyze and interpret. Student responsibilities: Students must familiarize themselves with basic graphing and analyses of community and ecosystem data in program R. You must bring a laptop computer or tablet to class capable of running programs R and RStudio.

Grades: Pass/Fail based on completion of field data collection, basic analysis, and one-page write-up of interpretations.

Participation: Attendance in all components of the workshop in required.

Computing: Download the free computer program R at: http://www.r-project.org and
RStudio at: http://www.rstudio.com/products/RStudio/#Desk

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