The Everglades is a complex ecosystem that supports a vast amount of biodiversity. Alterations to the Everglades landscape have occurred since the 1880s. These changes include thousands of kilometers of canals and levee and hundreds of water control structures. The most significant landscape changes were put into place in 1948 with the Central and Southern Florida Project. The objective of this project was to provide south Florida with predictable and controllable flood control and water supply. The alteration of the Everglades and the extensive urban and agricultural growth caused many negative ecosystem responses. The hydrology of the Everglades was greatly altered by the changes in sheet flow, fluctuations in water levels, and higher frequency of large drought. Total P concentrations are now 10-100 times higher than they were in the natural system due to the urban and agricultural runoff. Cattail has taken over the land that was once dominated by sawgrass. Wading birds decreased by 90% and geographically shifted their nesting patterns. Over-farming the once fertile peat-based soil has caused the loss of more than 2 meters of soil. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program was created to restore the region's hydrology and reduce nutrient enrichment as much as possible, but social issues and economic concerns have slowed down the process. The changes made to the Everglades were necessary to develop the land into the thriving urban area it is today, but these changes came with many unforeseeable and negative consequences. In order to prevent the further degradation of the Everglades, we need to push aside the economical and social concerns and restore the land. A healthy Everglades system is critical in order to environmentally, economically, and socially thrive.
Mogavero, Taylor. "Ecosystem responses of the Everglades to landscape alteration." (Spring 2021).