Swamp Uplands

A vertical rise of 2.5 feet separate the swamp’s lowest habitats from its high ground. Nose-bleeding country by no stretch, pinelands and hammocks are islands of higher and “drier” ground in the swamp. See more habitats:  Cypress domes | Strands and sloughsSwamp mosaic?Flood and fire | Marl Prairies | UplandsBotany | Alligators and more | Life cycle of a pond apple | mangroves

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Flying south
Loop around Loop Road

There’s always lots to see …

On a flight over Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve.

We flew clockwise around Loop Road

On this trip south of Tamiami Trail, we see a swamp mirror (reflecting the clouds), the Pinecrest Chain of Hammocks, Gum Slough, Loop Road, Sweetwater Strand and Gator Hook Strand and Trail.

Pine high ground

High and dry in the pines
September is (usually) peak season in the swamp

You know we’ve finally hit the heart of the wet season …

When the pinelands are shallowly flooded.

Bar chart showing hydroperiod (i.e. duration of flooding) in the pines of Big Cypress National Preserve over the past 30 years.

Over the course of an average year, we can usually count on the hydric pines going under for a good 4 months of the summer/fall period and the higher-perched mesic pines getting inundated for about a month.

And usually September is reliably our peak water season.

Except this year.

The water table is inching up but still below the pine trunks.

Hydric pines during wetter times

That makes this year drier (i.e. less wet) than the drought summer of 2000

flood and fire

Mosaic on mosaic
And how fire shapes it

The term swamp is a bit of a misnomer.

Mosaic is probably the better term.

Green within the black

It applies to both its maze of plant communities …

And the patchy pattern by which it burns.

Black within the green

And the variable nature of water …

In terms of both duration and depth.

So go flood and fire, so go the swamp … I mean mosaic!

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