Welcome to south Florida and the Everglades region. This field trip is designed to provide you with information on the Florida Everglades, past, present and future. We will begin the trip with a look at the natural conditions of the Everglades.  We will examine the natural processes, such as hydrology, geology and biology, that shaped the southern peninsula of Florida and the unique and thriving ecosystem the Everglades was at the turn of the century.

  We will look at the various plant communities that dominate the Everglades and the animals that inhabit them. From this general information, you will be able to understand that the delicate balance of natural processes occurring in the Everglades system is very fragile. Even small, localized impacts can have broad ripple effects on the entire region. Some of these effects may be a reduced number of species unique to the Everglades, such as the Florida panther, snail kite and the American crocodile. We will examine these endangered species and find that their dwindling population can be attributed to humans and their interference with the region.

From here we will move on to examine the anthropogenic effects on the Everglades ecosystem. This section consists of a detailed account of the steps that led to the development of the current water management system in south Florida, and the modern subdivisions within the region. We will see how the increasing human population has affected the Everglades ecosystem for more than 100 years.

The last section of the field trip takes us to Water Conservation Area 2 (WCA-2). Based in Durham, North Carolina, with a field office laboratory in Loxahatchee, Florida, the Duke Wetland Center has been studying the central Everglades ecosystem for more than eight years. Under the expertise and direction of Dr. Curtis J. Richardson, Professor of Resource Ecology in the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Wetland Center is currently unraveling the mysteries of anthropogenic effects on this ecosystem. Many of the studies undertaken by the Center have examined the effects of nutrient enrichment and disturbance on the types of ecosystems present in the Everglades. Some of these studies will be outlined briefly in this final section leaving you with a sense of the complex nature of the Everglades problems.

[Introduction][Natural Conditions][Anthropogenic Effects]