Monday, January 19, 2004
The Central Florida Springs Project kicked off January 19, 2004, and will run for at least the next several years. The Cambrian Foundation is working in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection collecting data and monitoring water quality in some of central FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s springs. These springs currently include Wekiva, Witherington, Blue, Sulfur, Rock, and Sanlando.
Specifically, we are examining pH, specific conductance, temperature, and dissolved oxygen and are evaluating how these parameters change day to day and season to season as they are important factors that influence biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems.
pH indicates whether the water has a tendency to be acidic (pH < 6), basic (pH > 8), or neutral (pH 6-8). As air pollutants concentrate in the atmosphere, precipitation can become more acidic. Acid rain (or snow) can then severely disrupt the food chain affecting nutrient availability, sediment composition, and inhibiting reproduction in many aquatic organisms.
Specific conductance is the ability of a substance to conduct an electric current. In water quality analyses, specific conductance, or conductivity, serves as an indicator of the ion concentration in solution. These data then make it possible for scientists to further examine hardness, total dissolved solids, etc. and determine what kind of rock this water dissolved on its way down into the aquifer.
The temperature of many central Florida springs ranges between 68-70° F year-round. With little fluctuation in temperature, many would think that these head springs would be ideal environments for a diverse assemblage of vertebrates and invertebrates; but unfortunately, this is not the case.
As plants photosynthesize, they produce oxygen. This oxygen is then used by vertebrates and invertebrates during cellular respiration. In general, oxygen solubility in water increases with decreasing temperature and increasing flow. However, in many of these springs where temperature is fairly constant, oxygen levels are relatively low and therefore limit what organisms can inhabit these waters.