Acrylic on canvas, 2x24
Near Marco Island, large areas of freshwater marl prairies border the deeper sloughs of the Everglades. The soils are made up almost entirely of dead plant materials and are extremely slow to decay, since they are submerged in water for the majority of the year. they contain soil that is more suited for slow seepage rather than full drainage.
This organic soil is know as peat, and can build up to a fifteen foot thick layer. The soil contains a lot of carbon, making it very fertile, but the lack of other nutrients make it difficult for plants to colonize.
A complex mixture of algae, bacteria, microbes, and detritus attaches itself to the surfaces of the submerged plants and is called periphyton. the periphyton forms the basis for a food chain since small fish and invertebrates feed on it and in turn provide food for the larger fish, which then provide food for the wading birds, and on up the food chain.
The sawgrass covering of the prairies is extremely efficient at utilizing available nutrients and flourishes in an environment lacking the nutrients of most growing areas. As phosphorous and other agricultural nutrients leach into the soil, cattails and other invasive plants are able to grow. While some of the prairies are meant to host a variety of species, we are losing large area of our native sawgrass prairies to cattails.