Freshwater Wetland Reclamation in Florida: An Overview
Reclamation of water-filled pits as lakes following surface mining for phosphate ore in Florida is intended to produce fish and wildlife habitat similar to that associated with natural lakes. However, little is known of the rates and equilibrium species numbers for microbial communities that colonize the lakes, the effects of physical and chemical factors on microbial communities, and the rate at which stable ecosystems develop. Initial research concentrating on a set of 10 reclaimed, unreclaimed, and natural lakes in central Florida revealed a suite of chemical differences (potassium, hardness, alkalinity, conductivity, and TOC) that could be used to distinguish the lake types, but the protozoan communities could not be similarly differentiated, apparently because their distributions appeared to correlate best with aluminum and phosphorus levels. When the set of lakes was increased to 21 during a supplemental investigation, chemical factors again proved important in distinguishing lake types. In addition, natural, unreclaimed, and active mining pits could be differentiated by their protist communities, but the communities inhabiting the reclaimed lakes spanned the range of variability of all lakes.