About this Research Topic
The period comprising the latter part of the 20th century and throughout the new millennium has witnessed unprecedented degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on a global scale. Some of the causes of this, such as acid deposition and depletion of the protective ozone (O3) layer, have been addressed successfully via environmental legislation at the U.S. federal level and through international cooperation, with both acidity and emissions of O3-destroying chlorofluorocarbons declining notably over the past 30 years. Others, however, such as climate change and related effects, are becoming increasingly more serious.
The State of Florida is uniquely susceptible to many of these effects, in addition to other environmental threats, with several factors contributing to these concerns. To wit, among the 10 most populated states (Florida is third, behind California and Texas), Florida has the highest current percent growth rate (1.63%), a rise that began a century ago and continues to this day. Furthermore, although Florida is second only to Alaska in absolute distance of marine shoreline, it has a far higher ratio of shoreline to surface area. Finally, Florida has the second lowest mean elevation among states --30.5 m --with a high relative surface area < 5 m in elevation. All told, these features of the State of Florida represent a unique confluence of environmental concerns: a large and rapidly growing human population with high connectivity to and reliance on marine ecosystems, all of which are increasingly vulnerable to the manifold effects of climate change.
Some of these issues include the rise of sea level, groundwater contamination, destruction of coral species and the reefs they assemble, the development of algal blooms (including red tides), tropical storms/hurricanes (including frequency, strength, and effects on natural ecosystems and human populations), invasive species, and the epidemiology and pathogenicity of Vibrio bacteria. Although most of these, e.g., tropical storms and coral reef degradation, are either directly or indirectly related to climate change, others, e.g., groundwater contamination and invasive species, are not. On the other hand, virtually all are driven by an ever-increasing human population and represent real threats both to the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and to human health and well-being.
Accordingly, it is both merited and timely to focus on current research and understanding of the scientific nature of these issues, which is the purpose of this Frontiers Research Topic. Areas of particular interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Microplastics in the marine environment
2. Environmental effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill
3. Environmental threats to sea grass ecosystems
4. Environmental threats to coral reefs
5. Algal blooms, with an emphasis on red tides, in waters of coastal Florida
6. Tropical storms impacting the State of Florida
7. Groundwater contamination in Florida
8. Pathology and epidemiology of Vibrio species
9. Effects of sea level rise on the ecology and economy of Florida
10. Ecological threats to the Florida Everglades
11. Invasive plant species in terrestrial ecosystems of Florida
12. Invasive animal species in terrestrial ecosystems of Florida
13. Invasive species in marine ecosystems of flora
14. Hypoxia and the development of `dead zones' in the Gulf of Mexico
15. The status of sea turtle populations in the Gulf of Mexico
Keywords: climate change, Florida, marine ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.