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Professional Short Courses

COURSE TITLE: Climate Change and Coastal Wetlands: Planning for Resiliency in the Face of a Rising Tide

INSTRUCTORS Todd Z. Osborne, PhD

COURSE DESCRIPTION Climate change is a real and pressing issue facing resource managers, and as such requires planning for the protection of coastal wetland resources. Understanding the ecological trajectory of coastal wetlands that currently are, or in the future will experience effects of sea-level rise and altered temperature regimes, is critical to anticipating future coastal ecosystem form and function. This is highly important in areas where wetlands play a regionally significant role as storage pools of ecologically relevant elements (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus), critical habitat for fisheries, or provide other desirable ecosystem services.

We utilize observations of salt water intrusion into the freshwater marshes of the Florida Everglades and the resulting "peat collapse" to provide insight into ecosystem trajectories of vegetation communities and organic soil resources. The synthesis of these observations suggest significant changes to ecosystem form and function within the footprint of salt water transgression, providing resource managers with tools to plan for ecosystem changes. We also utilize observations of mangrove expansion into historical saltmarsh ecosystems on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida which indicates climate change, in the form of reduced freezing events, is allowing a shift in foundation species in coastal wetlands. The change of dominant vegetation from marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) to woody, canopy forming black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) and red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) can have significant effects on ecological function and ecosystem services provided. We synthesize results of several research efforts in this changing coastal wetland system to provide resource managers and research scientists alike with ecosystem trajectories which include alterations to blue carbon storage, habitat value, and trophic structure. These trajectories form the basis for which to forecast change and resiliency in coastal wetlands and plan for protection of high value wetland resources.

Dr. Todd Z. Osborne is an Assistant Professor of Estuarine Biogeochemistry at the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience in St. Augustine FL and maintains an appointment in the Soil and Water Science Department on UF’s Main campus. As the head of the Estuarine Ecosystems Laboratory at Whitney, Dr. Osborne has a diverse research program focusing on biogeochemical processes in soil and water in a variety of ecosystems throughout Florida. Currently, Dr. Osborne is highly engaged in research determining how climate change affects coastal ecosystem form and function. His lab is currently working within the ecotone of mangrove range expansion into saltmarsh habitats with special interest in applying principles of biogeochemistry to addressing ecological questions in the coastal zone. The Osborne lab is also highly engaged in the study of large-scale disturbances (hurricanes, sea-level rise) to natural and urbanized coastal ecosystems.

Dr. Osborne has been engaged in Everglades restoration science for two decades with several projects investigating biogeochemical cycling of phosphorus, sulfur and carbon within the Greater Everglades. These research initiatives include fire effects on biogeochemical cycling of phosphorus and impacts to water quality and exotic species, sulfur biogeochemistry and relationships to mercury and phosphorus mobility in Everglades soils, and spatial variability of soil nutrients at the landscape scale. Recently completed work on nutrient gradients in the Taylor Slough basin of Everglades National Park have also gained the attention of ecologists and Park Service land managers, resulting in new theories concerning nutrient cycling at the landscape scale in Everglades restoration science.

Hailing from Georgia, Todd migrated south for graduate school where he met his wife, a UF Veterinarian and native Floridian. They live in St. Augustine FL with their two young daughters, both of which know the local wetlands like the back of their hands!

Credit Points: 0.06

SYLLABUS/TOPICAL OUTLINE View or download the outline here: SWS00001W-042_SecV_15347.docx

Louis Mantini
9225 CR 49, Live Oak, FL 32060
P: 386.647.3144


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Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
Last Updated 10/1/20