See Syllabus of a Spring Ecosystems course offered out of the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences



Spring Ecosystems

ENV 6932K

Fall 2012


Robert L. Knight/Wetland Solutions, Inc.

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Tuesday and Thursday periods 1 & 2

Room CSE E122


Catalog Description

Applied and theoretical aspects of the ecology and management of Florida’s artesian springs.


This course is offered through the University of Florida Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences and the on-line UF EDGE Program (

Suggested Texts/References

·         2008 – Effects of Nutrients in Springs (Brown, Knight, et al. – Florida Department of Environmental Protection)

·         2004 – Springs of Florida (Florida Geological Survey Bull. No. 66)

·         2002 – First Magnitude Springs of Florida (Florida Geological Survey Bull. No. 85)

Course Description

Florida’s artesian (deep groundwater) springs are an important natural resource, providing the basis for extensive wildlife support and human recreation. These springs are under increasing threats from human activities, including flow reductions, nutrient increases, aquatic weed management activities, recreational impacts, and a variety of water resource development projects. A growing awareness of these problems is leading to a rapid increase in demand for knowledge about the basic chemistry, biology, and ecology of springs to be used for improved resource management. This course provides an overview of the current understanding of how springs are a product of their environmental surroundings and how they respond to management decisions.

Who Should Take this Course?

This course is offered to those interested in Florida’s water resources from a science, management, or administrative perspective and for those who wish to develop or sharpen their understanding of aquatic ecology in general. Information from all related physical, chemical, biological, and economic disciplines will be integrated to allow an understanding and appreciation of the role that springs play in overall support for Florida’s natural and human ecologies. This course should be of interest to ecologists, environmental scientists, water resources engineers, natural resource managers, and those practicing environmental law.

Your Instructor

Dr. Robert L. Knight is an environmental scientist/systems ecologist. He is Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute and President of Wetland Solutions, Inc., an environmental consulting firm.  Dr. Knight has over 35 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida. His doctoral work included an ecological assessment of Silver Springs and Silver River under the direction of Howard T. Odum. He completed assessments of the quantitative basis for establishing a minimum flow regime for protection of water and human-use resource values (WRVs) in Volusia County Blue Spring, a 50-year retrospective study of the ecological health of Silver Springs, the basis for establishing pollutant load reduction goals (PLRGs) and WRVs for the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, and a comparison of the ecology of twelve of Florida’s artesian springs. Dr. Knight and the Florida Springs Institute have developed restoration action plans for Wakulla, Ichetucknee, and the Santa Fe River springs.

Course Content

·         Introduction to Florida Hydrogeology

·         Distribution of Springs

·         Physical Attributes of Springs

·         Chemical Characteristics of Florida Springs

·         Biological Variability in Florida Springs

·         Integrated Ecosystem Behavior of Springs

·         Human Impacts on Florida Springs

·         Management of Florida Springs

·         Environmental Regulations and Florida Springs


Preliminary Grading Basis

·         Test #1                                    15%

·         Test #2                                    15%

·         Test #3                                    15%

·         Semester Project         30%

·         Final Exam                 25%

Preliminary Grading Scale

·         90-100 = A

·         85-90 = B+

·         80-85 = B

·         75-80 = C+

·         70-75 = C

Lecture Series (tentative)

WEEK 1: Introduction to Florida Springs

            Classification and distribution of Florida springs

            Introduction to spring ecosystems

WEEK 2: Introduction to Florida Hydrogeology

            Florida karst geology

Groundwater distribution

Florida water balance and climatic variability

Groundwater quality

WEEK 3: Distribution and Physical Attributes of Florida Springs

            Types of springs

Spring classification based on flow

Jurisdiction of springs

Spring formation and decline


WEEK 4-5: Landscape and Chemical Characteristics of Florida Springs

            Watershed and springshed contributions

Cations and anions

Salts and conservative elements

Dissolved oxygen


Trace metals and organics

Week 6-7: Biological Variability of Florida Springs

            Primary producers

Primary consumers

Higher level consumers


WEEK 8-9: Ecosystem Behavior of Florida Springs

            Ecosystem structure and function

Consumer control and carrying capacity

Energy flows

Ecological efficiency

WEEK 10-11: Human Impacts on Florida Springs

            Reductions in spring discharge

Nutrient enrichment


Aquatic plant management effects

Recreational impacts

Other water resource projects

WEEK 12: Management Opportunities in Florida Springs

            State parks and resource areas

            Local parks

            Community concerns           

WEEK 13-14: Environmental Regulation and Florida Springs

            Minimum flows and levels

State/federal water quality standards

Listed species

Pollutant load reduction goals

Total maximum daily loads/basin-wide Management Action Plans

New state and local regulations

WEEK 15: Future of Florida Springs

            Nutrient controls/best management practices

Water permitting/conservation

A new environmental ethic

Field Trips

Up to three one-day weekend (Saturday) field trips will be conducted to representative springs in three geographical areas in Florida:

·         Ocala National Forest

·         Southwest coast

·         North central

Field-trip participation is recommended and will replace two class hours during each of the field trip weeks. Students will meet spring managers and have the opportunity to snorkel in representative


From: Paul Chadik [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 10:40 AM
To: Mckee,Kathleen A
Subject: Springs course announcement


Bob Knight would like to publicize his Springs Ecology course for the fall 2012 semester (syllabus attached).  The course is offered on EDGE but has an on-campus section.  Would you be able to send this out to the WI listserve?

Paul A. Chadik, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Professor
Department Head
Dept. of Environmental Engineering Sciences
Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment
Box 116450
217 A.P. Black Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL  32611-6450
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