2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Melissa Friedman
Session Name Poster Session: Hydrologic, Biogeochemical and Ecological Processes 1
Category Hydrologic, biogeochemical and ecological processes
Poster Number 211
Author(s) Melissa H. Friedman,  University of Florida
  Michael G. Andreu,  University of Florida
  Amr Abd-Elrahman, University of Florida
  Robert J. Northrop, Hillsborough County Extension
  Wayne C. Zipperer, USFS Southern Research Station
  Characterizing Riparian Forest Communities in an Urban and Urbanizing Area in West Central Florida
  Over the last century, Florida’s population grew from approximately 500,000 to more than 16,000,000 people. This growth has not only fragmented and deforested riparian plant communities but has also significantly altered hydrological processes, resulting in changes in compositional and structural attributes of those communities, and hence the ecosystem functions and services they provide. In order to begin to understand how urbanization is altering riparian habitats, we established 97 fixed radius .10th acre plots that occurred within 50 ft. of flow lines, water areas, and water bodies in the city of Tampa and its surrounding watershed. Data collection followed the methodology described by the i-Tree Software Suite User’s Manual, 2006 and included metrics for ground, shrub, and tree strata. Patterns in these data were identified using multivariate analyses methods and plant communities were classified by and compared to the 2009 Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) “Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida”. A total of 12 community types were identified, 9 of which have been described by FNAI and included basin swamps, bottomland forest, depressional marsh, floodplain swamp, hydric hammock, mesic hammock, and tidal swamp. The remaining 4 are newly emerging or have not been identified as a community in this area before, and include Brazilian pepper, disturbed riparian –unmanaged, pasture, and urban-managed. Natural and emergent riparian communities differed not only in their composition and structure, but also by the presence of urban land cover, principally impervious surfaces and managed lawns. Additional work is needed to determine how emergent and natural riparian communities differ functionally. The results of this study can be used by natural resource managers to assess current community types in this area and to target future conservation and restoration efforts. In addition, this information can be used to inform policy makers about the ecological importance of riparian habitats and the potential effects of urbanization on these habitats as they develop strategies for future planning and development.