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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 176909, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/176909
Research Article

Using Florida Keys Reference Sites As a Standard for Restoration of Forest Structure in Everglades Tree Islands

1Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA
2Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA

Received 22 July 2009; Revised 29 October 2009; Accepted 9 December 2009

Academic Editor: Terry L. Sharik

Copyright © 2010 Michael S. Ross et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In south Florida, tropical hardwood forests (hammocks) occur in Everglades tree islands and as more extensive forests in coastal settings in the nearby Florida Keys. Keys hammocks have been less disturbed by humans, and many qualify as “old-growth,” while Everglades hammocks have received much heavier use. With improvement of tree island condition an important element in Everglades restoration efforts, we examined stand structure in 23 Keys hammocks and 69 Everglades tree islands. Based on Stand Density Index and tree diameter distributions, many Everglades hammocks were characterized by low stocking and under-representation in the smaller size classes. In contrast, most Keys forests had the dense canopies and open understories usually associated with old-growth hardwood hammocks. Subject to the same caveats that apply to off-site references elsewhere, structural information from mature Keys hammocks can be helpful in planning and implementing forest restoration in Everglades tree islands. In many of these islands, such restoration might involve supplementing tree stocking by planting native trees to produce more complete site utilization and a more open understory.