Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Geography

Major Professor

Philip Reeder, Ph.D.

Keywords

Mangroves, Latitude, Temperature, Precipitation, Crystal Bay, Cockroach Bay, Rookery Bay

Abstract

The coastline of Florida has been formed by geomorphic processes which have created suitable habitats for certain vegetation and organisms. One type of vegetation is the mangrove; this plant has a latitudinal range of 24° to 32° N latitude which is associated with local climatic changes (Mitsch 2000). There are three species of mangrove found in Florida: red (Rhizophora), black (Avicennia), and white (Languncularia) (USGS 2006). Mangroves have adapted overtime to live in different ecosystems which cause mangroves, along the Florida coast, of the same species not be the same. Climatic variation causes individual mangrove trees have structural differences such as: tree height, diameter, and density; these variations are related to geographic location (Pool 1997, Schaeffer-Novelli 1990). Tree height is the measurement from the base of the tree trunk of the ground to the top of the tree.

The diameter, also known as diameter at breast height (DBH), is the circumference of the tree trunk 1.21 meters from the ground. Density is the frequency of individual tress within predetermined distance. Florida's southwest coast has one of the world's biggest mangrove swamps called Ten Thousand Islands (Mitsch 2000). In northern Florida the mangrove swamps begin to mix with salt marsh vegetation, here mangroves are more like shrubs than trees (Mitsch 2000). The changes in individual mangrove structure could be a result of available freshwater and temperature. This project was a quantitative analysis using published and original data for graph production to understand the structural variation of mangroves on Florida's gulf coast at different latitudes. Study sites were located in bays along the Gulf of Mexico.

The gulf coast of Florida was the study area of this project because it is the northern latitudinal limit for mangroves and as the latitude changes mangrove plant structure changes (Mitsch 2000). The tree height, diameter, basal area, biomass, and densities were compared to the precipitation and temperature values to understand the effect climate has on mangroves.

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