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  1. Naturally formed forest patches known as tree islands are found within lower-statured wetland matrices throughout the world, where they contrast sharply with the surrounding vegetation. In some coastal wetlands they are embedded in former freshwater marshes that are currently exposed to saltwater intrusion and mangrove encroachment associated with accelerating sea-level rise. In this study we resurveyed tree composition and determined environmental conditions in tree islands of the coastal Florida Everglades that had been examined two decades earlier. We asked whether tree islands in this coastal transition zone were differentiated geomorphologically as well as compositionally, and whether favorable geomorphology enabled coastal forest type(s) to maintain their compositional integrity against rising seas. Patterns of variation in geomorphology and soils among forest types were evident, but were dwarfed by differences between forest and adjacent wetlands. Tree island surfaces were elevated by 12–44 cm, and 210Pb analyses indicated that their current rates of vertical accretion were more rapid than those of surrounding ecosystems. Tree island soils were deeper and more phosphorus-rich than in the adjoining matrix. Salinity decreased interiorward in both tree island and marsh, but porewater was fresher in forest than marsh in Mixed Swamp Forest, midway along the coastal gradient where tropicalmore »hardwoods were most abundant. Little decrease in the abundance of tropical hardwood species nor increase in halophytes was observed during the study period. Our data suggest that geomorphological differences between organic tree island and marl marsh, perhaps driven by groundwater upwelling through more transmissive tree island soils, contributed to the forests’ compositional stability, though this stasis may be short-lived despite management efforts.« less
  2. Fungi play prominent roles in ecosystem services (e.g., nutrient cycling, decomposition) and thus have increasingly garnered attention in restoration ecology. However, it is unclear how most management decisions impact fungal communities, making it difficult to protect fungal diversity and utilize fungi to improve restoration success. To understand the effects of restoration decisions and environmental variation on fungal communities, we sequenced soil fungal microbiomes from 96 sites across eight experimental Everglades tree islands approximately 15 years after restoration occurred. We found that early restoration decisions can have enduring consequences for fungal communities. Factors experimentally manipulated in 2003–2007 (e.g., type of island core) had significant legacy effects on fungal community composition. Our results also emphasized the role of water regime in fungal diversity, composition, and function. As the relative water level decreased, so did fungal diversity, with an approximately 25% decline in the driest sites. Further, as the water level decreased, the abundance of the plant pathogen–saprotroph guild increased, suggesting that low water may increase plant-pathogen interactions. Our results indicate that early restoration decisions can have long-term consequences for fungal community composition and function and suggest that a drier future in the Everglades could reduce fungal diversity on imperiled tree islands.