Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Critical information predicting condition changes in manatee habitat resulting from the alteration of freshwater flows to estuaries is needed to develop the PSRP Detailed Design and PSRP Operations Plan components and complete consultation under the Endangered Species Act.
Turbid water conditions make the delineation and characterization of benthic habitats difficult by traditional in situ and remote sensing methods. Consequently, only a small fraction of this valuable resource has been mapped or characterized.
Long-term monitoring data in the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System (MIPS), developed and coordinated by WARC-Sirenia Project in collaboration with Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and Mote Marine Laboratory, are the basis for modeling manatee demography rates.
Manatees are tropical to subtropical in distribution and, with few exceptions, Florida is the northern limit of their natural winter range. The availability of warm-water habitat during winter is critical for the future persistence of the population in Florida.
With high numbers of manatees using the Florida Power and Light power plant warm water refuge during winter, their impact on the seagrass beds in the Indian River Lagoon is considered an important indicator of the long-term capacity of the area to support the manatees. USGS is working with partners to investigate the spatial extent and intensity of manatee use of seagrass beds in the area.
Population models developed by USGS are the primary decision-support tools used for status assessments, and rely on estimates of adult survival and reproduction rates from mark-recapture studies.
USGS works with partners to assess manatee distribution and habitat use throughout the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
Since 1978, USGS scientists have photo-documented manatees in the Southeast United States. Now, more than 3,000 manatees can be found in the MIPS database.