Costal Wetland Ecosystems in SW Florida. Part 2

Project goal: Develop a database for data organization of observations of Coastal Ecosystem

These are the early results of a trial project for data collection by citizen scientists using a custom designed cell phone application. Look for part one of this series of postings at Costal Wetlands Part 1.

The feature image is a typical seascape of our beautiful western shore coast line of South West Florida (SWFL).

Project description and outcomes:

Sand is the foundation of our civilization. It is the most heavily mined material on Earth. This Investigation of the Costal Systems of SWFL is based on this foundational material. The null hypothesis was to refute the idea that all local beach sands were identical. The goal was two-fold. The first goal was to develop an app for data collection which would take the data from observations and submit them to a cloud-based database for later evaluation. The second goal was to use the beach sand to act as a unifying substrate upon which adjacent observations could be related. The objective was to allow investigation and comparison between and among sample locations and to a standard model. The method used included an interested but untrained group of citizen scientists to observe, collect, test, and record the beach sand and adjacent materials and its contents in a wide variety of locations. A custom designed cell phone app was made and downloaded by 5 participants. Sample bags were distributed. Observers worked at sites along 80 miles of SWFL shoreline of their own choice. All samples were examined microscopically. 16,800 data points including images were collected. Data in the relational database was sorted and correlated in IOS Numbers spread sheet. Assessment of the samples revealed a significant diversity of the beach sands. The null hypothesis was refuted. The novice team behaved in a coherent, cohesive fashion. The software was comprehensive, self-explanatory and reproducible. The data has been published and is freely available on the World Wide Web through Epicpollect5 .  Analysis was easy and diverse in capability. Accomplishments: Teamwork was effective, software was the cohesive agent, early conclusions are evidence-based Analysis of information can lead to confident understanding and could lead to thoughtful decisions about SWFL costal ecosystems.

These are early reports of preliminary findings:

Area of SW Florida. 40 colored dots are observation locations

Plastic package with sand sample. Label shows observation number. Photograph shows pack placed over actual size image for scale.

These images are copied from the database and show a typical costal observation point.

Wide view of beach

Close proximity to beach

One meter square observation area

Photomicrographs show images of observation samples viewed with 5x magnification.


Dark field direct illumination

Transilluminated polarized light

Sand sample stored in plastic bag. Label number attached. Photographed against background scale. Photographed. Portion of sample examined microscopically. Sample filed.

The Costal shore was examined grossly with findings and comments gathered by the application then uploaded to the database. The gross examination was gathered visually and tactilely from he beach. Additionally, near adjacent findings were recorded such as larger objects, proximity to landmarks, level and proximity to the shore, vital or devital, time and date, identity of plants and animals and any other significant details. All of these details were captured photographically and by sampling.

Details and data from the observations are available at the site epicollect5 . The site provides maps, data files and graphic files.

The data was filtered and statistically summed and averaged using MS Excel spread sheet. Correlations were not made because there is relatively little data.

Here are some of the findings. Please understand that the sample size is small. Reported results are not definitive.

Gross examination

  • Observations were made in daylight hours
  • Tides were generally rising on all observations
  • 95% of the costal areas were sandy beaches
  • 30% of the beaches were remediated with imported sand after storm Ian
  • 5% was the average beach profile
  • Life forms were concentrated along the water line and dune/upland areas

Close examination (Typical)

  • Sand particle size was ❤ mm
  • All beaches had 30% to 100% quartz
  • Most beach sand was an aggregate of quartz and shell or reef fragments
  • No other mineral was found
  • Plastics and salts were not identified

Microscopic sand sample composition findings summarized from excel assessment from 33/40 completed data files reported from 40 observations

Ratio Aspect
Texture, Fineness10/33 Fine and Medium fine
13/33 Medium Coarse and Coarse
50% Fine, 50% coarse
Homogeneity20/33 Well and Very Well
4/33 Poor
Most are Highly Homogeneous
Particle shape7/33 Well rounded and Rounded
23/33 Some what Round to Angular
All showed roundedness
Source17/33 Quartz
9/33 Quartz and Shell
High fraction of Quartz and Shell
Ratio of Quartz to Other 11/33 80 to 100%
9/33 60 to 680%
All sand had moderate to high fraction to quartz
Quartz particle size11/33 0.5 to 1,0 mm
7/33 0.35 to 2.0 mm
Quartz particles had a high variance in 0.25 to 2.0 mm range
Other particle size11/33 2 to 6
8/33 0.75 to 2
Non Quartz had High variance in the 0.75 to 6.0 mm
This table summarizes the microscopic anatomy of the sand found at all complete reported sites

SWFL Costal Ecosystems are based on sand. The SWFL sand is really complex with many things still to be discovered. Plastic micro particles need further exploration, minerals from shore-side water trapped in sand should be better defined, costal areas with silt overlay has not yet been discussed. The mollusks and birds of this system have been observed and need to be further explored. The data collection and database application trial was successful in data capture and facilitation of the data analysis using spread sheet software technology.

Be sure to click here to see the database on the Epicollect5 web site

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#sand #observation #texture #homogeneity #particle shape #source #size #ratio 3photomicrographs #microscope #costal ecosystem #database

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