The Everglades Handbook : Understanding the Ecosystem, Fourth Edition book cover
4th Edition

The Everglades Handbook
Understanding the Ecosystem, Fourth Edition

ISBN 9781498742900
Published December 22, 2016 by CRC Press
472 Pages 235 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

The fourth edition presents expanded treatment of subjects where our knowledge of the Everglades and its restoration has greatly improved. This more detailed coverage includes:

  • Computer modeling and its applications to the Everglades environment
  • Quantified role of water flow in shaping the Everglades landscape
  • The origin and evolution of fixed tree islands
  • Sulfur and related mercury as wetland pollutants
  • Up-to-date summary of the now quantified economic benefits of restoration, shown to be far in excess of the cost

The Everglades Handbook: Understanding the Ecosystem, Fourth Edition is a scholarly reference packed cover to cover with scientific information about the ecosystem of the Everglades - taking into account how drastically the Everglades has changed. Topically, the book covers disciplines ranging from ecology, geology, climatology, hydrology, anthropology to conservation biology. Written in Tom Lodge’s trademark accessible style, this extensively researched text is essential reading for anybody trying to understand the challenges we face in restoring this unique ecosystem.

Table of Contents

I Background

1 An Ecosystem Overview—What Is (or Are?) the Everglades?

A Unique and Valuable Ecosystem

Terms and Definitions

South Florida Climate and Weather

The Historic Everglades Region

Origin and Evolution of the Everglades

2 The Everglades in Space and Time

Florida, Geologic Time, and Plate Tectonics

Limestone and Aquifers

Emergence of Land on the Florida Platform: The Peninsula

Sea Level, Climate, and the Birth of the Everglades

II Environments of the Everglades Region

3 Freshwater Marshes

Marsh Vegetation and Plant Communities

Sawgrass Marsh

Wet Prairies


Pond (Alligator Hole) and Creek

Water Levels in Everglades Peatlands

Water Quality

Periphyton: A Plant Community Atop Others

Marsh Soils

Weather and Fire

Ridge-and-Slough Landscape and Flow: The Cutting Edge of Everglades Science

4 Tree Islands

Size and Location of Everglades Tree Islands

Kinds of Tree Islands: The Vernacular Names


Willows and Willow Heads

Cypress, Cypress Domes, and Cypress Heads

Tree Island Evolution

Pop-up or Battery Tree Islands

Strand Tree Islands

Fixed Tree Islands

Other Processes

Tree Island Moats

Pond Apple (Custard Apple)

Integrity of Tree Islands

5 Tropical Hardwood Hammocks

The Hammock Environment

Tree Height

The Strangler Fig

Hammocks, Fire, and Succession

Unpleasant Aspects of Hammocks

Hammocks and Wildlife

6 Pinelands

Pinelands and Fire

South Florida Pine Rockland and Endemic Species

Pinelands in South Florida Ecological History

7 The Big Cypress Swamp

Public Conservation Units and Native American Lands

Surface Waters of the Big Cypress Region

Geology and Soils

Big Cypress Vegetation



Cypress Forests and Domes

Mixed Pine and Cypress Forest

Mixed Swamp Forest

Marl Prairies


Hydrology of Big Cypress Plant Communities

Integrity of the Big Cypress

8 Mangrove Swamps

Kinds and Characteristics of Mangroves

Red Mangrove

Black Mangrove

White Mangrove, Buttonwood, and the Buttonwood Embankment

Mangrove Reproduction and Dispersal

Mangroves Swamp Soils and Soil-Building

Oysters and Mangrove Swamps

Mangrove Swamps and Everglades Wildlife

Mangrove Swamps and Marine Fisheries

Legal Protection of Mangroves

Visiting a Mangrove Swamp

9 Coastal Lowland Vegetation ... and Hurricanes!

Impacts of Hurricane Andrew on the Everglades

Hurricane Frequency and Environmental Impact in Southern Florida

Impacts of Hurricane Donna

The Hurricane Legacy: Coastal Lowland Vegetation

The White Zone—A Hurricane-Prone Landscape

Hurricanes and Glacial Cycles

10 Estuarine and Coastal Marine Waters

Florida Bay: A Geologist’s Classroom

Florida Bay as Part of Everglades Restoration

Historic Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Environments

Marine Transgression and the Future of Mangrove Swamps

11 Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Headwaters

The Lake Okeechobee Watershed

Lake Okeechobee’s Discovery and Name

Origin of Lake Okeechobee and Its Basin

The Predrainage Lake

Beginnings of the Modern Lake: Hamilton Disston and the State of Florida

Federal Involvement: From the Okeechobee Waterway to the C&SF Project

Lake Okeechobee’s Water Levels: Nature Versus Regulation Schedules and the Hoover Dike

Vegetation and Wildlife

Littoral Zone

Pelagic Zone


Other Wildlife

Water Quality


Elevation Surveys, NGVD, and NAVD [inset explanation box]

12 Peripheral Ecosystems of the Everglades

The Caloosahatchee and Charlotte Harbor

The Caloosahatchee—Historic Condition

The Caloosahatchee—Modified Condition

Caloosahatchee Restoration

The St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon

The Watershed of the St. Lucie River–Southern Indian River Lagoon

Alterations of the St. Lucie River and Southern Indian River Lagoon Wa tershed

The St. Lucie–Southern Indian River Lagoon Restoration Plan

Loxahatchee Slough and the Loxahatchee River

Loxahatchee Slough

Loxahatchee River Northwest Fork—Environmental Impacts and Restora tion

The Lake Worth Lagoon

Biscayne Bay and Its Coastal Wetlands

Biscayne Bay’s General Features

Predrainage Freshwater Inputs and Estuarine Values

Modern Biscayne Bay’s Estuarine Decline

Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands and Everglades Restoration

III The Flora and Fauna of Southern Florida

13 Origins of the Flora and Fauna

Tropical versus Subtropical

Elements of the Flora

Origin of the Tropical Flora







Marine Flora

Hurricanes and Dispersal

Proximity and Dispersal

Origin of the Temperate Flora


Marsh Vegetation

Origins of the Fauna

14 Invertebrates

Marine and Estuarine Invertebrates

Freshwater Invertebrates

Florida Applesnail

Seminole and Mesa Rams-Horns


Riverine Grass Shrimp and Side-Swimmer Amphipod

Aquatic Insects

Terrestrial Invertebrates




Florida Tree Snail

Importance of Invertebrates

15 Freshwater Fishes

Primary Freshwater Fishes

Secondary Freshwater Fishes

Peripheral Freshwater Fishes

The Florida Gar

Introduced Fishes

Freshwater Fishes and the Food Chain

The Fisherman’s Perspective

16 Marine and Estuarine Fishes

Diversity of Marine and Estuarine Fishes

Game Fishes


Threatened and Endangered Species

Importance of the Region’s Marine and Estuarine Fishes

17 Amphibians

Amphiuma and Sirens

Treefrogs and Toads

True Frogs

The Importance of Amphibians

18 Reptiles

Reptiles of the Everglades Region

The American Alligator

Alligators and Other Crocodilians Compared

Size and Danger to Man

Alligators as Predators and as Prey

Alligator Distribution

Alligator Protection

The Alligator’s Life Cycle

Alligator Holes and Their Importance

The American Crocodile

19 Mammals

Land Mammals of the Everglades

The White-Tailed Deer

The Florida Panther

Marine Mammals

20 Birds

Breeding Land Birds

Breeding Waterbirds

Feeding Behavior of Wading Birds

Wood Stork (WOST)

White Ibis (WHIB)

Glossy Ibis (GLIB)

Roseate Spoonbill (ROSP)

Great Blue Heron (GBHE)

Great White Heron (GWHE)

Tricolored Heron (TRHE)

Reddish Egret (REEG)

Great Egret (GREG)

Snowy Egret (SNEG)

Little Blue Heron (LBHE)

Green Heron (GRHE)

Black-Crowned Night-Heron (BCNH) and Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (YCNH)

Wading-Bird Rookeries

Threatened and Endangered Birds

Snail Kite

Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow

A Contest of Beauty

21 Synthesis—Ecological Relationships, Processes, and Models for the Everglades


Everglades Peatland Succession

Food Chains and Food Webs

Everglades Food Web

Lake Okeechobee Food Web

Mangrove Swamp Food Web

Conceptual Ecological Models

Hydrologic Modeling

EDEN – The Everglades Depth Estimating Network

An Example Hydrologic Model Application: L-31N Seepage Barrier

Ecological Models: Putting Food Chains, Landscapes, and Hydrology Together

Small Fishes Example and Trophic Implications

IV Environmental Impacts

22 Humans and the Everglades

Native Americans and the Everglades


Archaic Period

Formative Period

Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes

Overview of Native American Impacts

Hydrology, Land Use, and the C&SF Project

Everglades Features of the C&SF Project

Everglades National Park and the C&SF Project

Modifications to the C&SF Project

The Development of South Florida

Agriculture and the C&SF Project

The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)

South Miami-Dade Agricultural Area

Rock Mining and Land Development

Coastal Waters

Ecological Effects of Altered Hydrology on the Everglades: A Summary

Everglades Water Quality Issues


Sulfur and Mercury

Sulfate and Sulfide in the Everglades

Mercury and Methylmercury

Sulfate, Sulfide, and the Methlmercury Connection

Sulfide Toxicity

Sulfate Regulation

Changes in Wildlife

Wading Birds

The Alligator

Specimen Collecting

Introduced Exotic Species



Brazilian Pepper

Old World Climbing Fern




Reptiles and Amphibians


Mammals and the House Cat Dilemma

Controlling the Introduction of Plants and Animals

Off-Road Vehicles

Solving Deterioration: Everglades Restoration

The Everglades Forever Act and Everglades Construction Project

Modified Water Deliveries, "Mod Waters"

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)

Everglades Expedited Projects (formerly "Acceler8")

The Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP)

Restoration and the Endangered Species Act

Restoration Versus Climate Change and Rising Sea Level

The Economics of Everglades Restoration

What Lies in the Future?



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Thomas E Lodge, Ph.D., is a self-employed ecologist. He has led numerous environmental projects directly relating to the Everglades, including the development of methodology for evaluating the ecological functions and values of historic Everglades wetlands for the purpose of providing "no net loss" of wetlands. Dr. Lodge has served on the Board of Directors of the Tropical Audubon Society and was an appointed member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s "Multi-Species Ecosystem Restoration Team," which assisted in Everglades restoration strategies dealing with listed species. He has also occupied an invited faculty position to teach South Florida Ecology at Florida International University, where the all editions of The Everglades Handbook: Understanding the Ecosystem have been used as course texts.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Lodge has a B.A. with a major and departmental honors in zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University (1966) and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Miami in Florida (1974). In graduate school, he became fascinated with the Everglades, both academically and personally. In addition to publishing magazine articles on the Everglades, he wrote and directed an educational film ("The Everglades Region, An Ecological Study", John Wiley and Sons, 1973), and published on the fishes of the region. After receiving his Ph.D., he became an environmental consultant, specializing in wetlands and aquatic ecosystems. Dr. Lodge still works as a consultant, with two recent examples being a reassessment of Everglades restoration options in a team effort with The Everglades Foundation and protection of Grassy Waters Preserve, part of the historic Loxahatchee Slough. His professional interest in the Everglades is mirrored in his personal interests. For more than 40 years he has been a regular observer and photographer of Everglades wildlife, his ultimate relaxation.


"This fourth edition covers the key subjects of previous editions with major updates of the new science and understanding. If there ever was a necessary book for Everglades advocates, students, authors, members of government and their agencies, The Everglades Handbook: Understanding the Ecosystem is an absolute must!"

—Nathaniel P. Reed, from the Foreword

“This book is far and away the best guide now in print to Everglades issues -- authoritative, well-illustrated, well-indexed, and readable."

— Martha Musgrove, retired Miami Herald journalist, founding President of the Decision Makers Forum, and Southeast Regional Director of the Florida Wildlife Federation

"Given the astonishing breadth and depth of scientific activities in the Everglades, Tom Lodge once again illustrates his savvy as an articulate science writer in condensing the complex dynamics of this remarkable ecosystem. …In summary, the Handbook reviews a vast literature into a compelling read about the natural treasures of the Everglades."

—Evelyn E. Gaiser, Executive Director, School of Environment, Arts and Society, and Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Florida International University, modified from Wetlands (2011) 31