Florida's Rivers and Springs

By Rachel Liegey

Introduction to Rivers and Springs in Florida

Springs and rivers are great places to visit, as well as beautiful habitats. Springs and rivers are located all over Florida, but one of the closest springs to Orlando is Rock Springs. Local governments and, sometimes, the whole state protects these areas. There are way over 30 rivers and springs in florida, so it would be pretty easy to find one! Usually springs and rivers are quiet and relaxing, unless many people are there. Things to do at rivers and springs include tubing, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and watching for animals. In some springs, you can watch for manatees.

Abiotic Factors in This Ecosystem

-Both rivers and springs are aquatic ecosystems.

-Often sandy, but sometimes exposed limestone, silt, or clay.

-Temperatures of spring water in Florida is usually around 73 degrees (year round), while river water is around a high of 78 degrees and a low of 63 degrees.

-Spring water is freshwater and comes from an aquifer. There are some rivers in Florida that are salt water, and some are freshwater. The water is free-flowing and comes from rain.

-Wind and weather impacts the rivers and springs highly because it adds on water, and makes the water a certain temperature.

-Springs and rivers in Florida get sunlight depending on how many trees are in the area, but overall they get lots of sunlight. After all, Florida gets lots of sunlight anyway.

-Sources of pollution to this ecosystem include dredging, saltwater intrusion, and industrial pollution.

Biotic Factors in this Ecosystem

Major producers (plants) in this ecosystem: cattails, blackgum, bladderwort, buttonbush, cottonwood, red maple, pickerelweed, wild rice, eel grass, strap-leaf sag, red ludwigia, bald cypress

Major consumers (animals) in this ecosystem: alligator snapping turtle (omnivore), american alligator (carnivore), beaver, river otter, wood duck, dragonflies (mostly prey), manatees (herbivores), river cooter, snails

Major decomposers in this ecosystem: bacteria, fungus, microbes

Human Impact on Rivers and Springs

(Negative) Channelization, dredging, diversion, and dam construction; introduction of exotic plant and fish species; removal of groundwater, followed by saltwater intrusion; industrial pollution.

(Positive) People save the endangered species in the ecosystem and release them back into the waters.

Endangered Manatees

Description: Manatees are migratory. They are mainly found in shallow rivers, springs, etc. They are also found in places with freshwater vegetation, because they are herbivores. They usually stay in warm waters, above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fact(s): Manatees go to the surface of the water every three to five minutes to breathe although they can remain underwater longer, holding their breath for up to 20 minutes. When they do take a breath, 90 percent of the air in their lungs is replaced (whereas humans tend to replace about 10 percent).

Human impact: (Negative) People in power boats cause trouble for manatees.

Most manatee deaths are caused by boat collisions. Manatees were also hunted extensively in the past. They can also die from ingested fish hooks, litter, etc.

(Positive) People make organizations to help/save manatees from dying.

Classification of an American Alligator

Domain- Eukaryote

Kingdom- Animalia

Phylum- Chordata

Class- Reptilia

Order- Crocodylia

Family- Alligatoridae

Genus species- Alligator Mississippiensis

Evidence of Research