Manatees are a keystone species, meaning that studying manatee individuals or populations allows us to assess the health of aquatic ecosystems. Our Aquatic Animal Health Program receives funding from a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission grant to provide training and conduct research on marine mammal topics, particularly manatees. Our research investigates aspects of biology and medicine to help scientists and veterinarians gain an understanding of these species. This newfound knowledge improves the care and conservation of Florida manatees and their ecosystems.
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.
Reproductive research increases our understanding of the reproductive physiology of manatees. This area of research has not been adequately represented in the expansive growth of sirenian research. Gaining a better understanding of reproduction in manatees is critical to continued long-term management and conservation efforts.
Contaminants from human activities can have a major impact on aquatic environments. Researchers are currently working to identify how these harmful chemicals can affect aquatic species and ecosystems. This research is extremely valuable to the conservation of vulnerable species and habitats.