Water-Related News

Mangroves crucial to SWFL ecosystem, protect shorelines and reduce carbon

Mangroves are not only iconic to Southwest Florida’s coastal beauty but they’re also the first line of defense against sea level rise and storms.

FGCU’s The Water School researchers started studying these mangroves right after Hurricane Irma in 2017 to see how the area recovered after the storm.

Just in the last couple of weeks, they’ve returned to the site to see how it has changed since then.

Win Everham, Ph.D., is a professor of ecology and environmental studies. He said, “It’s wet, it’s muddy. The prop roots make it hard to move through there. There are spiders all the time.”

While the mangrove plot may be inhospitable for the unfamiliar, for Everham and Brian Bovard, Ph.D. this outdoor classroom is both beautiful and vital.

Bovard is the program coordinator and assistant professor with the Department of Ecology & Environmental Studies at FGCU.

He said, “We’re doing a long-term study of the mangroves to look at how they actually respond to things like rising sea levels, hurricane impacts, storm surge, things like that.” This duo along with their students study how these mangroves grow and change over time.”

Related: Read CHNEP's 2017 "Mangrove Heart Attack" report on saltwater wetland loss