Ecosystems in the Everglades

The Everglades isn’t just an ecosystem. It has many different ecosystems within it. For this article, we wanted to share with you some details of the many ecosystems within the Everglades.

Coastal lowlands/prairies – Coastal lowlands and prairies are found on the west coast of the Everglades inland from Florida Bay. These inlands are formed from inland movement of mud that occurs during major storms and hurricanes. Salt-tolerant plants and desert-type plants grow in this area.

Freshwater sloughs – Freshwater sloughs are deep, marshy rivers that deliver major water flow of the Everflades that move 100 feet per day. The Park’s two major sloughs are the Shark River Slough and the Taylor Slough and they both empty into Florida Bay.

Freshwater marl prairies –  These prairies are on both the east and west sides of the Everglades bordering the deep sloughs. A marl is a thin, chalky soil made of calcium carbonate on top of limestone bedrock. The water here is shallow. There is a lot of low vegetation in these prairies.

Marine – Marine ecosystems in the Everglades include mangroves, reefs, seagrass beds, estuaries, and bays. The water drains into the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay.

Mangroves – Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees and thrive in rivers and other bodies of water. The Everglades is home to the largest protected mangrove forest in the northern hemisphere. The Everglades is home to red, black, and white mangroves. Birds nest in the mangroves. The mangroves are also great at protecting the land/shore from hurricanes.

Pine forests – Pine forests are found often in limestone. The Park schedules regular burns to keep these pines healthy.

Cypress trees – These trees live in standing water and are often found in “solution holes,” which is pitted terrain formed in broken, porous rock.

Hardwood hammock – A hardwood hammock is an older hardwood forest found on elevated ground of “tree islands.” They don’t flood usually because of the elevation.

Explore the Everglades Ecosystem by Airboat

On an airboat tour, you get a chance to go by many of these ecosystems and see them up close!  To schedule an airboat trip when you’re visiting the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.