Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Ecosystem Science and Policy (Graduate)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

David Letson

Second Committee Member

Kenny Broad

Third Committee Member

Gina Maranto

Fourth Committee Member

Tanya Heikkila

Fifth Committee Member

Jessica Bolson


Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is an adaptive and holistic management approach that intends to improve management outcomes through greater stakeholder collaboration and consideration of economic and social factors. However, EBM research suffers from a gap between theory and implementation and lacks case studies demonstrating thorough EBM implementation. This dissertation research addresses this gap by providing a comprehensive interdisciplinary examination of water managers, scientific researchers, and other stakeholder groups’ interaction in the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) region. Using the Interaction Triangle Tool, this research assesses SFWMD’s EBM effort, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), through regional water management decisions. Chapter 1 provides background information on EBM research, the SFWMD region, CERP, and the Interaction Triangle. Chapter 2 examines how water management public participants discuss the SFWMD water system using framing theory. Chapter 3 examines the Triangle’s dimension of legitimacy in SFWMD participatory processes through the analysis of both SFWMD and water management public participant data. Focusing on the Triangle’s dimension of saliency in scientific input, Chapter 4 uses a mental model approach to gather information from regional agricultural representatives about the SFWMD water system and Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir. Chapter 5 applies the Triangle’s dimension of credibility in knowledge production to examine team collaboration and research integration on the South Florida Water, Sustainability and Climate (SFWSC) Project in their production of interdisciplinary papers. Chapter 6 draws conclusions from the four studies by providing three recommendations for SFWMD’s implementation of CERP and two recommendations for EBM scholarly researchers.


Ecosystem-based Management; Framing Theory; Mental Models; Interdisciplinary Teams; Political Process Legitimacy; Interaction Triangle Tool

Available for download on Saturday, July 31, 2021