Simulation of Manatee Habitat with EEMS
The warm waters and shallow, vegetated waterways of the Gulf of Mexico provide valuable habitat to a diverse range of plants and animals. Among them, the manatee (Trichechus manatus) or “sea cow”, is one of the most sensitive to cold wintertime water temperatures. During winter and spring, thermal requirements often constrain manatee habitat . When the weather is colder, manatees have often been observed in warm spring-fed rivers, and in the vicinity of warm effluent from power plants .
While adverse temperatures are often a direct cause of natural mortality in manatees, the most common threats to manatees typically come from human-related issues (frequently ship strikes and habitat destruction) . Therefore, understanding the thermal dynamics of coastal waters is an important factor in understanding the range and movement of manatees. The EFDC+ model has the ability to simulate the natural forces that drive coastal ecosystems, including advection, exchange with the atmosphere, and groundwater seepage. The EFDC_Explorer Modeling System (EEMS) has been used by environmental managers in Florida and elsewhere to understand the distribution of manatee habitat throughout the year.
EEMS has powerful features to help analyze and visualize the distribution of aquatic habitat using the results of an EFDC+ model simulation. These features allow user to identify preferable habitat for manatees and other aquatic life, and track changes in habitat distribution through time with variations on the scale of hours to years. You can learn more about the habitat analysis features of EEMS in the Knowledge Base Habitat Analysis.
Want to give it a try? You can start by downloading our Free Demo and the Habitat River example. To see these features in action, head over to our YouTube page and our videos on Habitat Suitability Criteria and Critical Limits.
Written by Thomas Mathis
 Gannon, Janet G., et al. “Habitat selection by manatees in Sarasota Bay, Florida.” Marine Mammal Science 23.1 (2007): 133-143.
 Laist, David W., and John E. Reynolds III. “Florida manatees, warm-water refuges, and an uncertain future.” Coastal Management 33.3 (2005): 279-295.
 O’Shea, Thomas J., et al. “An analysis of manatee mortality patterns in Florida, 1976-81.” The Journal of Wildlife Management (1985): 1-11.