Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Charles Stanish, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher Kiahtipes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Diane Wallman, Ph.D.


Archaeology, Estuaries, Paleoecology, Palynology


Archaeological and environmental studies reveal prehistoric human-environmental interactions and resolve baseline conditions for estuaries. Paleoecological proxies, such as pollen, aid archeologists in investigating past vegetation dynamics and human impacts. An issue with collecting this information today is that most present-day estuaries in Tampa Bay have been succeeded by mangrove communities and do not represent baseline vegetation dynamics. This is believed to be the consequences of widespread mosquito ditching. As a result of this, the once complex mangrove, salt marsh, juncus marsh, salt prairie, and coastal upland mosaics were converted to monodominant mangrove forests. Upper Tampa Bay (UTB) park contains some of the last intact complexes of estuary wetlands vegetation types. This area also contains archeological site complexes, making UTB a unique opportunity to investigate vegetation response to past land use. This project creates a baseline vegetation-pollen dataset by collecting surface pollen samples and record vegetation across UTB Park. The analysis of this data reveals the difficulty with equifinality and relates to the issue of regional vs local pollen signals. Open sites are especially vulnerable to an abundance regional pollen, reducing the signal of the proportionally less frequent local pollen signal. This can have implications for the interpretations of pollen assemblages of open archaeological sites. This implies a need for a greater focus on locally distributed taxa and for a greater pollen count for samples in this region.