Characterization of Manatee Habitat

Daniel Gonzalez-Socoloske (Biology)

Characterization of manatee habitat and its use with side-scan sonar in Isla de La Juventud, Cuba

Manatees inhabit fresh, brackish, and marine waters. Certain habitat characteristics have been identified as important for manatees, such as water depth, available vegetation, and access to freshwater. Habitat characterization is a critical step to determine the suitability of a habitat to manatees and, when coupled with manatee tracking studies, provides a way to understand how manatees are using the habitat. In this collaborative project, I will continue collaborating with Cuban colleagues to characterize the marine habitat around Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, so that those data can be used along with the tracking data that are being collected to better understand how manatees are using the area. Ultimately, this study will provide scientifically based information that can be used by governing agencies to better conserve this endangered species.