Since 1985, a Florida state agency constructed and maintained hundreds of square kilometers of wetlands built to regulate the amount of nutrients reaching the Everglades in southern Florida. However, Zapata-Rios et al. show that this is proving to be ineffective in controlling concentrations of phosphorous, a key nutrient, in the surface waters of the wetland. Historically, the Everglades has been a nutrient-poor environment, a characteristic that determines the delicate ecological balance and distinct flora and fauna in this region. Agricultural development and urbanization since the 1800s have not only claimed two- thirds of the natural Everglades (only 6000 square kilometers now exist in their natural form) but have also dramatically increased phosphorus levels in surface water, at times exceeding the acceptable limit of 10 micrograms per liter by severalfold.
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