Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


Periphyton, Anyone? Daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Periphyton, Jo-Ann Sanborn
Acrylic on panel, 5"x7"

A few weeks ago on a visit to Shark Valley, one of the rangers searched out a clump of periphyton in order to show to visitors, and to explain its importance to the Everglades environment.  Periphyton looks like a clump of light-colored peat, but in reality houses a tiny community containing  a complex mix of algae, bacteria, fungus, microbes, and invertebrate animals. 

In wetland areas like the everglades periphyton attaches to subsurface detritus, plants, and rocks under the surface of the water.  It sometimes floats as a mat.  Periphyton serves as an important food source for small animal and plants.

Periphyton is an  ideal indicator of water quality since it is easy to sample and has a fast response to change in water quality.  They are also important to keeping water quality good, since they will hang on to pollutants.  Periophyton is one of the indicators researchers will watch closely to monitor the effects of Everglades restoration efforts. 

So the next time you're in the Everglades and pick up a bit of earth/peat/detritus from the water or edge, it could be a whole colony of microscopic life you're holding! 


Happy Little Trees Studio said...

We get such a kick out of going to Shark Valley and riding our bikes. I like the 2nd half of the loop better than the first. Very cool! Nice Painting!

Jo-Ann said...

It's one of those places that I think I should have gotten more, and then realize I did! Love it.

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