Manatees are a keystone species to study all aspects of conservation and health from an individual, population, or ecosystem standpoint. A major contributor to the UF Aquatic Animal Health Program is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission grant that funds training and research of marine mammals, especially manatees. A wide array of research topics investigating aspects of conservation and medicine, help scientists and veterinarians gain an understanding of these species to improve the care and conservation for Florida Manatees and conspecific counterparts.
Sensory systems are crucial for manatee life. Gaining a better understanding of how their sensory system works, gives scientists an understanding of how human interactions negatively effect manatees and it can provide an understanding of mammalian evolution.
Reproduction is a novel topic in not only manatees, but many aquatic species. Gaining a better understanding of all aspects of reproduction could contribute to long term efforts in manatee conservation from a management or ecosystem perspective.
Contaminants have a major impact in aquatic environments. The degree and severity of impact from certain factors is currently being assed. This research is extremely valuable to conservation initiatives to protect not only manatees, but other aquatic animals, from toxic runoff into the aquatic ecosystem.