Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Henry R. Mushinsky, Ph.D.


Florida, Phosphate mining, Soil microbiology, Environmental policy, Reclamation, Bioindicators


The State of Florida ranks fifth in the world's production of phosphate. The phosphate industry relies on surface mining to withdraw the phosphate ore, and this process can devastate the natural environment. One of the most impacted natural resources is wetlands. Federal laws permit the legal destruction of wetlands providing their loss is compensated by the mitigation (i.e., the restoration, creation, or enhancement) of other wetlands, but the complexity of wetland ecosystems makes the mitigation process difficult. One of the goals of this thesis is to review the established Federal, State and non-regulatory guidelines for the development and maintenance of mitigated wetlands, evaluate their efficacy and present some underlying reasons for successful versus unsuccessful mitigation projects.The environmental repercussions of phosphate mining are not only pertinent to Florida or the United States. Wetland mitigation has become a global issue.

Laws and programs that facilitate specific countries do not benefit wetland ecosystems on a landscape level. It is important to remain cognizant of the ramifications of wetland destruction and avoid piecemeal solutions to a wide-spread problem. Thus, my second objective is to investigate the progress and status of international wetland preservation. I will examine how different countries and international organizations are addressing the environmental impacts of mining, and underscore the relevant methods and protocols. I will also supplement this review by proposing the use of soil microbial communities as bioindicators of wetland development and sustainability. I will describe the laboratory and field procedures necessary to evaluate the various biological and physical aspects of mitigated wetlands, thereby offering mangers an effective monitoring technique. My intention is to confirm that microorganism development and preservation are critical to wetland health and longevity.

My final objective is to document the relevant literature on environmental policy, and provide current scientific and policy review for researchers, managers and legislators. This thesis will synthesize the diverse and often contradictory theories, and suggest possible methodologies to bridge the science-policy gap.Overall, I intend to supply researchers, managers, and government agencies with a source of publications that can assist in evaluating, managing and monitoring wetland mitigation projects.