Everglades Ecosystem Amber Rouse SCI/230 July 17, 2011 Everglades Ecosystem The Everglades National Park is located in southern Florida. The park is 1,506,539 acres, with a diverse set of animals calling this popular park home. According to Park Vision the Everglades National park is one of the largest national parks in the United States. The Everglades National park has only two larger than it within the United States. Over one million tourists plan this unique place as a recreational trip each year. The temperature is mild in the winter, and hot in the summer.
The humidity is roughly 90% year round. The Everglades National park is a large area of wetlands made up of marshes and swamps. The Everglades begin at a large lake in the center of Florida and ends in the Gulf of Mexico. It is close to being 50 miles wide and 110 miles long. It has also been known as “River of Grass” due to the way it looks from sky view. There are five unique habitats in which plant and animal life interact with perfect harmony. The hammock environment is higher in elevation than its surrounding areas. The vegetation is mostly hardwood, with a deep rich soil.
These are generally classified as areas of dense hardwood trees, and shrubs. Some of the animals and reptiles that live in the hammock environment are the grey fox, green snake, raccoon, box turtle, tree snail along with several species of tree frogs. The grey fox is one of only two canines with the ability to climb trees. The green snake, another within this environment, is a common southern snake; it is green in color and roughly 30 inches long and slender. The raccoon is found in several areas throughout the United States. The box turtle is found near wet areas throughout the warmer southern states.
The tree snail is found on branches, tree trunks, and rocks in this area. They have also recently been placed on the list of threatened species. There are 13 species of tree frog within the Everglades two of these tree frog species are considered an invasive, and exotic species. The mangrove environment is an area classified by evergreen trees and shrubs with thin roots and stems. This environment is found mostly along the coastline and water ways. The roots often intertwine above the water, and will also provide a food source for smaller animals and aquatic life.
The one and only identifier that are used to classify this region is the large grouping of trees which are able to grow despite the large amounts of salt in the water in these areas. Within the mangrove environment one will find a large percentage of endangered or threatened species. The brown pelican is noticeably smaller than the rest of the species. The osprey is found worldwide, and is a bird of prey often called the sea hawk. The American crocodile is often confused with the alligator. They have a long pointed snout and a visible 4th tooth on the bottom jaw.
According to Glenn Wilsey Sr. (2007) there is an amazing fact that this is the only instance where alligators and crocodile live together. The green sea turtle has become a threatened species, and there are many laws to protect them. The roseate spoonbill was hunted to the point of only 40 or so mating pairs in southern Florida. Since they have been placed on the protected list they have made a comeback, and now number at around one thousand mating pair. The Florida key deer has been placed on the federal protection list, for threatened and endangered animals.
They are roughly 3 feet tall and are at home in the Florida Key’s. The life of the manatee is in danger. Their largest killer is boating accidents. The environment and temperature also play a part in the overall survival of the species. The pineland environment is often times easy to classify, and is noted by the large amounts of pine trees that have taken root and amazingly grown from the exposed limestone. Fire is crucial to the survival of this ecosystem. Fire is what clears out the hardwood trees which grow much faster than the pine.
Without fire this ecosystem would likely be much different, as the hardwood trees would grow so fast they would choke out and kill the pine. The largest threat to this area is the logging of these trees for numerous purposes. There are many animals which are quite at home in this ecosystem. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is one of 4 poisonous snakes found in the park. According to Rick Ferren (2010) is an average is 4 feet long but the largest ever captured in the wild was over eight feet. The Florida Panther was adopted as the Florida state mammal in 1982.
In the 1800 these mammals were extensively hunted for their pelts, and are now an endangered species. In 1989 the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge was established which placed roughly 24,000 acres of their natural habitat under federal protection. (Exploring the Environment, 2005). The eastern indigo snake prefers to find a home in old gopher holes, and has become known as the gopher snake. These snakes are nonpoisonous, and average between 60 to 74 inches in length. They are Black and have shimmery blue highlights when in the sun.
Their lower jaw or throats are a splotchy orange. These snakes have been placed on the threatened species list. The barred owl is on the endangered species list. These owls hunt in late afternoon as they are not completely nocturnal. They weigh roughly 1 to 1 and a half pounds, with a wingspan of 45 inches. Coral snakes are poisonous and are about two feet long. Their distinctive pattern is hard to miss. They have alternating black red and orange bands which repeat for the entire length of the body. A coral does not strike like most snakes, instead they chew.
The king snake is an average of 48 to 72 inches, with brownish yellow scales and very little amounts of black. They are considered opportunistic feeders, as they will eat almost any small animal that they can get, including venomous snakes. The red-cockaded woodpecker is quickly becoming an endangered species due to the destruction of their habitat. The Florida black bear is a semi nocturnal mammal, resting during the heat of the day. There has been a massive increase in the amount of bear sightings in southern Florida mostly due to humans slowly moving in on this animal’s territory.
They are also opportunistic feeders, and would prefer to eat what is easiest to find, even dog food. The red rat snake is also known as the corn snake. They are orange and yellow with an average length of 2. 5 to 4 feet. These snakes are constrictors and will suffocate their prey by squeezing it. The saw grass marshes are defined as the areas of the shallow river flowing from Lake Okeechobee to the Florida Bay. In order for the saw grass to survive the water must be slow moving and somewhat shallow. Fire will destroy these areas, also if the water is too deep the sawgrass will die as well.
The great blue heron call the saw grass marshes home. These birds are wading birds, and are the largest of such in the park. They will stand in the water for hours hunting fish. The wood stork is on the endangered species list, and is one of the rarest birds in the Everglades National Park. They have been named an indicator species because their habitat determines their success as a species. Bald eagles are perhaps the most famous, and largest of all the birds of prey. In 1967 they were placed on the endangered species list, and it was a felony to shoot, trap, or harm them.
DDT was very detrimental to the population as they would lay eggs with thin shells causing them to break early rather than hatch as they should. In 1995 they were removed from the endangered species list and placed on the threatened list. The zebra longwing butterfly has been the Florida state butterfly since 1996. They have long black wings with thin white stripes, and live approximately 6 months, which is quite long for a butterfly. The slough environment is located in the deeper areas between the sawgrass marshes. The water is usually an average of three feet deeper in these areas.
These areas remain flooded as long as the water flow through this area is maintained. The American alligator is found in the warm wet areas across the south eastern states. The alligator is between 13 and 18 feet long and weighs about 475 pounds. They have a shorter and blunter jaw than the crocodile. The water moccasin is dark brown in color and is found in areas with water. These snakes have the ability to sort of glide across the water. One of the most important things to remember is that one must use caution around these snakes as they are poisonous. Human intrusion has harmed wildlife and destroyed the environment.
We are invading these animal’s natural habitats at an astounding rate. Many of these species have become threatened and are endangered or threatened. Many of man’s actions have caused problems for these animals. Oil drilling is the largest problem for the aquatic animals and costal plants. Many laws have been passed to help protect the environment The Audubon Society headed efforts to save the bird population in 1832 In 1901 a law was passed prohibiting hunting of many birds in the area with an exception to large game birds In 1947 the area was dedicated as a national park
In 1971 congress mandated the amount of water required to flow into the park In 1979 an additional 107,600 acres were added to the park There are many ways to get involved * Respect the park * Leave the animals alone observation is fine but the less human involvement the better * If you take anything into the park make sure it leaves with you * Knowledge is perhaps one of the best weapons against destruction of this uniquely complex and beautiful ecosystem References: TBO. com – Tampa Bay Online . (2011). Saving wetlands, farms and the Everglades. Retrieved from http://www2. tbo. om/content/2010/aug/11/na-saving-wetlands-farms-and-the-everglades/news-opinion-editorials/ National Wildlife Federation. ( 1996-2011). National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved from http://www. nwf. org/Wildlife/Wild-Places/Everglades. aspx National Parked. (2004-2011). Everglades Fast Facts. Retrieved from http://www. nationalparked. com/US/Everglades/ Museum of Science Inc (1997) http://www. miamisci. org/ecolinks/everglades/index. html Park Vision Everglades National Park May (2010) http://www. shannontech. com/ParkVision/Everglades/Everglades. html Everglades National Park Information Page March (2009) ttp://www. everglades. national-park. com/info. htm VOA News Everglades National Park-One of the World’s Great Biological Wonders September (2011)) http://www. voanews. com/learningenglish/home/Everglades-National-Park-103356779. html Inspire Action on Everglades Restoration the Everglades Foundation (2010) http://www. evergladesfoundation. org/ Stephanie Sharpe Focus on Focus Earth: Everglades Nevermore June (2009) http://planetgreen. discovery. com/travel-outdoors/focus-earth-everglades. html Save our everglades collier county September (2010) http://www. dep. state. fl. s/lands/FFAnnual/B_SaveOurEverglades. pdf Glen Wilsey Sr. (2007) American Crocodiles http://www. aaof. us/06. 00. htm Rick Ferren (2010) Longstreet highroad Guide to the Florida Keys and Everglades http://www. sherpaguides. com/florida/sidebars/snakes_in_park. html Exploring the environment Florida everglades April (2005) http://www. cotf. edu/ete/modules/everglades/FEpanther. html Florida Museum of Natural History (2010) http://www. flmnh. ufl. edu/herpetology/fl-guide/Drymarchoncouperi. htm (note: these are all the sites I either used facts from or read to gain more knowledge on the topic. )