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A Focus on Florida Coast Geography of Soils and Vegetation in Coastal Environments Essay

Related Topics: Beach Water Climate Florida

Pages:11 (3221 words)


Subject:Social Science


Document Type:Essay


Geography of Soils and Vegetation in Coastal Environments; focus on Florida Coast


A significant relationship exists between vegetation and soil: soil supports sufficient vegetation growth by providing the latter with moisture, anchorage, and essential nutrients; meanwhile, vegetation serves as a protective covering for soil, safeguarding it against erosion and also facilitating the maintenance of soil nutrition levels using nutrient cycling (i.e., accumulation of litter and its subsequent decay). Thus, soil and vegetation may be said to be reciprocally interrelated. Vegetation is responsible for supporting essential ecosystem functions at multiple spatial scales.

Furthermore, it strongly influences soil quality and attributes such as texture, volume, and chemistry that, in turn, and reciprocally impact several characteristics of vegetation, like floristic composition, productivity, and structure (Eni et al., 1). In this paper, coastal area vegetation and soil geography will be analyzed. But as considerable variation exists between different coastal areas (e.g., the coast of Libya (Mediterranean Sea) is characterized by stones, and a lack of any significant vegetation whilst America's southeastern coast features coastal vegetation and sand), this paper will mainly address the Floridian coastal zone.

Coastal zone soils typically display a small amount of evolution, being impacted by a vacillating water table, depositional-erosional events, organic and carbonate matter, and spatial texture variability. Leaching, gleyzation, decarbonation, and brunification are identified as being the significant soil-forming developments that occur within temperate-climate coasts (Bini et al., 31). Additionally, anthropic intervention facilitates soil development modification: water and sand extraction, tourism enhancement, terrain leveling, and land use modification all play a role in different environmental conditions, potentially influencing pedogenesis. In the same way, coastal regions' natural vegetation might encounter change owing to evolving environmental conditions.

Soil geography involves soil variability and distribution on terrestrial sites, both local and international. In this respect, out of all soil formation elements, climate and vegetation (which is a directly dependent variable) chiefly decide soil geography. For this paper, the two may be ideally perceived to be linked variables. Other soil formation elements such as time, parent matter, and topography, can be deemed to be secondary factors that alter geographical regularities applied by the climate?vegetation linked variable.

Drainage and soils

Florida's flat landscape is characterized as many as 1,700 streams (most of which can be found in the state's northwestern and northern parts) and several thousand lakes (primarily situated in central Florida). Also, Florida boasts a large number of first-magnitude artesian springs in the nation, primarily situated in central Florida. Apart from these, several drainage basins exist, with the largest being the Lake Okeechobee–Everglades basin (17,000 sq. miles [or 44,000 sq. kilometers]). Lake Okeechobee (700 sq. miles [1,800 sq. kilometers]) is the nation's third-largest freshwater lake (Lake Michigan comes first and the Iliamna Lake of Alaska, second). The considerable water network gets its supply of water from the porous limestone substructure of the state that stores water in enormous quantities.

Floridian soils typically comprise of clay, sand, muck, sandy loam, and peat; however, over three hundred kinds of soil have been identified in the region, with six broad soil zones being as follows: (1) Flatwood lowland soil: this can be found in the state's most significant soil zone, corresponding to the lowland coastal region. The area is characterized by underlaid, level terrain with a hardpan hampering drainage and simultaneously encouraging floods. (2) Organic soil: such soil can be found in several areas of the state, especially the Lake Okeechobee–Everglades basin. It is soggy, with submergence usually preventing the oxidation, shrinkage, and decay of muck and peat; nevertheless, drainage of the soil is followed by swift deterioration. (3) The Southern limestone soil: this kind of soil is found in the Big Cypress Swamp, Miami-Homestead region, and Kissimmee valley. (4) Northern slope soil: Typically regarded as being a separate area, it is situated in the immediate south. (5) Northern upland soil: ranging from well-drained loam to dry sand, this type of soil may be found in the area stretching over Florida's north. (6) Central upland soil: this soil type can be found in central Floridian higher-ridge regions, west of the Apalachicola River. Several other soil zones exist in the state, such as swamps extending into interior Florida and dunes lying at the fringes of its beautiful beaches.

Geological and Physiographic Setting 

The Floridian Peninsula's east coast is subaerially situated over a considerable carbonate platform comprising of a dense sedimentary sequence which may be traced back to Mesozoic (Jurassic) age and Cenozoic (Miocene) age (i.e., roughly between one-hundred-eighty and five million years back) (Benedet et al., 360-365). According to regional research, the Floridian Atlantic beach's calcium carbonate concentration is as much as 55 percent (by weight) (for instance, Cocoa Beach); several Floridian beaches have over 40 percent of carbonate content (or less than 60 percent of siliciclastics) (Benedet et al., 360-365). This high concentration of calcium carbonate in beach sediments has mainly been ascribed to warm local waters' elevated carbonate production. 

Average near-shore sediment grain size grows as one moves from the northern beaches to those in the south with an increase in calcium carbonate content and a decrease in siliciclastic content (that is 0.20 mm (Volusia County) to 0.4 mm (Miami-Dade County) 100 meters from the shore. However, coarser southern region values can stand at 0.7 – 0.9 mm on account of shell fragmentation (Benedet et al., 360-365). Anastasia Formation bedrock is either exposed above or buried below (though at only 2-3 meters in case of native berms). The dunes that front the state's back beaches have mostly been leveled to allow for the construction of high-rise buildings. Hence, in the current age, incipient dunes can only form in areas where infrastructure or edifices are constructed far from the seashore. Seawalls impede the formation of dunes in several back beaches along these developed shorelines.

Sediments and Waves      

Floridian Atlantic coast beaches are marked by diverse composition, because, within the siliciclastics matrix, biogenic matter admixtures exist, which add to the…

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…mm (Key West), and 1140 mm (in the vicinity of northeastern Florida Bay). Ocean water closeness buffers coastal regions against masses of cold polar air, which spread across the state's southern part in winter. Even a little farther inland, the likelihood of below-freezing winter temperatures can be twofold (Armentano et al., 225-281). Freezing temperatures that were, averagely, reported once in two years on the south Florida mainland in the recorded period (until the 90s when they started occurring less frequently) are seldom observed in the north Keys, and in other regions, not at all. The mainland coastal zone also, to some degree, experiences a maritime climate. Hence, in this region, low temperature is minimized as facet impacting species distributions. The above trend potentially accounts for some differences, at least, in the hammock compositions of the state's interior, Keys, and coastal regions.

Sea Level Rise

In coastal Florida and eventually the whole Floridian peninsula, one of the chief factors impacting succession, in the long run, is sea level. In a situation characterized by sluggish increase in average sea levels – the general trend in the past 3200 years (except for the past six decades that have seen an acceleration in sea level increase), marine transgression and vertical peat accretion have ensured maintenance of a massive mangrove forest along Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico (Armentano et al., 225-281).

Theoretically, accretion can bring about a sufficient soil surface rise for eventually supporting hardwood species that are accustomed to well-drained and low-salinity soil environments. However, mangrove-region hardwood tree isles chiefly exist as either storm-deposited marl or sand outcrops or Indian midden hammocks that rise above the nearby mangrove forests (through human action). 

Not much groundwork exists for presuming that the above areas can retain their position given the current rise in sea levels. A lack of mangrove peat, recorded by researchers, beneath the Floridian coast's hardwood hammocks indicates mangrove forest substitution with palms and hardwoods marked by relatively small salt tolerance rarely occurred previously; the likelihood of its occurrence today is even slimmer considering the acceleration in the rise of sea levels. At the current rate, and even before (i.e., roughly 3200 years back), the rate of peat accretion has not proven adequate to maintain tidewater-related elevations (Armentano et al., 225-281). As a result, we have witnessed the prevalence of marine transgression that, if kept up for sufficiently long, supports coastline flooding, mangrove peat submergence, and coastal vegetation loss/retreat, which likely includes hardwood stands on storm depositions. The likelihood of new community development on interior-displaced storm outcrops is not clear. However, while substantial uncertainty exists in this regard, upland coastal habitat elimination might be anticipated to progress in the much the same way as that occurring in the Keys, where the pine habitat was destroyed in the current century by saltwater intrusion.


In the context of coastal physical subjects, sediment budget and human coastal topography manipulation are perhaps underrated and considered a minor disturbance in the instantaneous…

Sample Source(s) Used

Works cited

Araujo, D. S. D., and M. C. A. Pereira. " INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON TROPICAL BIOLOGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES - Sandy coastal vegetation." Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), (2012).

Armentano, Thomas V., et al. "Vegetation pattern and process in tree islands of the southern Everglades and adjacent areas." Tree islands of the Everglades. Springer, Dordrecht, 2002. 225-281.

Bakker, Jan P., et al. "Environmental impacts—coastal ecosystems." North Sea region climate change assessment. Springer, Cham, 2016. 275-314.

Benedet, L., C. W. Finkl, and A. H. F. Klein. "Morphodynamic classification of beaches on the Atlantic coast of Florida: geographical variability of beach types, beach safety, and coastal hazards." Journal of Coastal Research (2006): 360-365.

Bini, C., et al. "Soils and vegetation of coastal and wetland areas in Northern Adriatic (NE Italy)." 7. International Meeting on Soils with Mediterranean Type of Climate, Valenzano (Italy), 23-28 Sep 2001. CIHEAM-IAMB, 2002.

Eni, D. D., A. I. Iwara, and R. A. Offiong. "Analysis of soil-vegetation interrelationships in a south-southern secondary forest of Nigeria." International Journal of Forestry Research 2012 (2012).

Psuty, Norbert P., Philip E. Steinberg, and Dawn J. Wright. "Coastal and marine geography." Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century (2004): 314-25.

Wright, Lynn D., and Andrew D. Short. "Morphodynamic variability of surf zones and beaches: a synthesis." Marine Geology 56.1-4 (1984): 93-118

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