Indian River Lagoon, Florida
Comparative ecophysiology of bloom-forming macroalgae in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida: Ulva lactuca, Hypnea musciformis, and Gracilaria tikvahiae
Effects of Hurricanes, Land Use, and Water Management on Nutrient and Microbial Pollution: St. Lucie Estuary, Southeast Florida
Located along Florida’s east-central coast, the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is a shallow (mean depth 0.8 m) and narrow (3 km wide) bar-built estuary extending 251 km between Jupiter and Ponce inlets.
Because the IRL comprises a transition zone between temperate and subtropical biomes,
the IRL is considered a regional-scale
ecotone and one of the most species-diverse estuaries in North America.
These changes greatly altered the hydrology and increased stormwater discharges to the IRL. This is especially evident in the St. Lucie Estuary, which now receives periodic excessive freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee, especially following hurricanes and tropical storms (Lapointe et al., 2012).
The IRL watersheds have experienced dramatic changes in land-use over the past century. Historically, drainage of the IRL basin occurred through slow, meandering streams, creeks, rivers, and wetlands. Since the Drainage Acts of Florida (1916) that permitted the creation of canals to drain uplands for agriculture, reduce flooding, and control mosquitos, the IRL watershed has nearly tripled its size from 231,480 hectares to more than 566,560 hectares.