Webb, Frederick J., Jr. (ed.) / Proceedings of the 17th Annual Conference on Wetlands Restoration and Creation : May 10-11, 1990
Morrison, Douglas, et al.
Effects of freshwater discharge from finger canals on estuarine seagrass and mangrove ecosystems in southwest Florida, pp. 115-126 PDF (4.2 MB)
EFFECTS OF FRESHWATER DISCHARGE FROM FINGER CANALS ON ESTUARINE SEAGRASS AND MANGROVE ECOSYSTEMS IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Douglas Morrison Jeff Malsi Paul Renault Philip Light Cheryl Marx Environmental Resources Division City of Cape Coral P.O. Box 150027 Cape Coral, Florida 33915 ABSTRACT The Cape Coral canal system has altered the natural sheet flow of freshwater into Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve (MPAP). A "spreader" waterway was constructed to re-establish sheet flow. However, we have found "breaks" in the Spreader which result in channelized flow of fresh to brackish water into MPAP. This input affects the physiochemical habitat of the saline wetlands and receiving waters of MPAP. Salinity is an important factor affecting seagrass, Thalassia and Halodule, distribution and abundance in Matlacha Pass. The channelized discharge from Cape Coral may inhibit or affect seagrass growth in MPAP. Cattail (Typha) has invaded the mangrove ecosystem along channelized flow paths which originate at breaks in the Spreader rim canal. Repair of these breaks and elimination of channelized freshwater discharge would inhibit Typha invasion and enhance re-establishment of saline wetland vegetation. INTRODUCTION Matlacha Pass, in Lee County, is one of 40 State Aquatic Preserves in Florida. Aquatic preserves are state-owned submerged lands of special natural resource value which are intended to be maintained in an essentially natural conditions. Matlacha Pass is identified as a sensitive area of particular concern within the Charlotte Harbor estuarine system because of its valuable natural resources, which include extensive mangrove and seagrass ecosystems, and vulnerability to upland development (Florida Department of Natural Resources, 1983). These resources are potentially threatened by, among other factors, channelized discharge of fresh and brackish water from the adjacent Cape Coral waterway system. The City of Cape Coral extends along the entire eastern border of Matlacha Pass. The City is transected by over 650 km of man-made fresh and estuarine waterways. This extensive waterway system disrupted the 115
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