Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Colorado
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Colorado Project

Design and Analysis of Manatee Demographic Models

August 2010 - June 2014


Participating Agencies

  • Southeast Ecological Science Center

The Manatee Population Status Working Group, convened by USFWS as part of its Florida Manatee Recovery Team, submitted a Biological Population Assessment of the Florida Manatee to the Service in 2005. The Group listed research priorities to improve future assessments and reduce uncertainty in models of population dynamics, which primarily are based on parameter estimates from photo-identification data in the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System (MIPS). Top priorities included: fill the gaps in regional estimates of calf and subadult survival rates and breeding rates, incorporate carcass recovery data into estimation of survival rates, and improve precision of population parameter estimates by joint analysis of multiple data sources. The primary objectives of this study are to: 1) develop manatee demographic models integrating photo-identification and genetic fingerprinting of live individuals and recovered carcasses; 2) develop and implement a model of adult manatee survival probabilities specific to migration patterns identified for manatees of the Atlantic Coast region; and 3) implement a model to estimate boat-strike scar acquisition probabilities for manatees in the Northwest region.