Wildlife Habitat and Wildlife Utilization of Phosphate-Mined Lands
The Florida phosphate mining industry is among the state‘s largest and most obvious land users. Through reclamation programs, mining companies strive to return mined lands to beneficial uses, one of which has been repeatedly identified as wildlife habitat. A three-year study initiated in 2004 was commissioned by the Florida Institute of Phosphate Research (FIPR) and performed by Biological Research Associates and the University of South Florida to conduct a wildlife habitat and wildlife utilization study of lands mined for phosphate in the Bone Valley region of Florida. The 62 study sites were comprised of 24 upland, 18 wetland and 20 mixed sites. The presence and relative abundance of vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and freshwater fishes) at each site were documented by using a variety of techniques including herp arrays, frogloggers, aquatic traps, fish sampling, Sherman traps, ANABAT units, bird surveys, and pedestrian transects. A total of 299 vertebrate species was recorded from the 62 sites. Mixed sites tended to have the highest number of species, followed by wetland sites and upland sites, respectively. Species richness ranged from 22 to 127 species per site. A series of recommendations was developed covering landscape-scale and site-specific concerns, as well as maintenance and monitoring goals.