Vegetation Classification Systems in the Everglades
The distribution, condition, and change of vegetation communities reflect factors that shape the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades including climate, hydrology, and human activities. Changing current vegetation communities is one of the goals in Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan in an effort to restore and preserve the habitat of threatened, endangered, and other wildlife species. Monitoring changes in vegetation communities can measure the progress and effects of restoration on environmental health. A number of national and statewide classification systems were available, but they failed to include the desired level of detail and specificity of vegetation classes for Everglades restoration. Recover required a classification system with enough flexibility and detail to enable the designation of vegetation classes using various identification techniques, from field investigations to remote sensing. The system also has a hierarchical structure that allows for physiognomic distinctions among plant communities, a basic requirement for linkage with the previous classifications; it allows users flexibility in choice of resolution.