Monitoring and Assessing Effects of the Picayune Strand Restoration Project (PSRP) on the Florida Manatee

Science Center Objects

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.

Port of the Islands (POI) basin
Port of the Islands (POI) basin

The Science Issue and Relevance: 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. This task directly supports the US Fish and Wildlife Service priorities for protecting endangered species from negative impacts of hydrological engineering projects. We work closely with federal and state partners that are implementing the PSRP, providing necessary monitoring, modeling and analysis to support their decisions regarding protection of the Florida manatee during this restoration.

Analysis and modeling of manatee mortality patterns
Analysis and modeling of manatee mortality patterns (USGS)

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: This task brings together USGS researchers from Biology and Water disciplines, combining hydrological field measurements and hydrology modeling with ecological expertise to predict restoration effects on manatees and their habitat. Methods used include modeling of fresh water flow over the FU-1 weir to predict halocline formation that leads to the manatee warm water refuge, isotope analysis for water sources in the POI basin, flow/temperature/salinity measurement and analysis in estuaries and the Port of the Islands (POI) basin, analysis and modeling of manatee mortality patterns in the basin related to water delivery and winter temperatures.

Modeling fresh water flow over the FU-1 weir to predict halocline formation
Modeling fresh water flow over the FU-1 weir to predict halocline formation

Future Steps: The Picayune Strand Restoration is progressing on schedule (see URL below) with the construction of the Merritt and Faka Union pump stations well underway. With diversion of canal flow to overland sheetflow, USACE and South Florida Water Management District have begun construction on a manatee mitigation refuge to preserve warm water in the area. As this feature is constructed, USGS will be the primary agency investigating the manatee response and success of this structure. USGS project work has been completed except for final products. See: http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_30_sgge.aspx

Related Project(s): Picayune Strand Restoration Project, Aceller8, Comprehensive Everglades Restoration, RECOVER, USGS-Seagrass beds and manatee foraging areas in the Ten Thousand Islands, USGS-Development of a Coupled Hydrodynamic Surface-Water/Groundwater Model (FTLOADDS) with Heat and Salinity Transport in the Ten Thousand Islands/Picayune Strand Restoration Project Area, Florida.