Title: Conservation Decision Support System Design for West Indian Manatee Habitat Suitability and Protection.
Authors: Ashleigh Wilson, Jeffery Robertson, Sudhanshu Panda
Manatees along Florida’s western coastline are being severely affected by major hazards such as watercraft collisions, red tide events, seagrass depletion, and cold stress. Conservation effort by public and government authorities is necessary to safeguard its population from the consequence of latest climate change impact and other human-induced hazards. Thus, the objective of this study is to develop an automated geospatial model analyzing all relevant features responsible for the West Indian Manatee habitat and to suggest proper decision support for its conservation. Geospatial data including historical boating collision records, marina site locations, population, chemical runoff, bathymetry, red tide spatial distribution, climate change, and vegetation were processed by creating an Area of Interest (AOI), projecting to a common UTM NAD 1983 Zone 17N projection system and converting vector data to raster format with 30m spatial resolution. Using a Delphi-based analysis, we created a spatial model that accommodated for all the variables of our study. With the advent of ‘Weighted Sum’ tool in ArcGIS, the individual contributing features were combined to provide the suitable habitat location for West Indian Manatee habitat on a scale of high-moderate-low. We obtained the present conservation location data for the State of Florida. Its intersection analysis with the suitable habitat feature data provided the information on the spatial locations that need to be conserved to safeguard the manatees. The critical areas not already safeguarded are to be proposed to the Fish and Wildlife Department for consideration in the creation of new protected habitats, promoting future species growth.
- Event location
- Event date
3 November 2018
- Date submitted
19 July 2022