Presentation Title

Behavioral Budget of Antillean Manatees (Tricheus manatus manatus) of St. George’s Caye, Belize

Project Collaborators

Eric Ramos

Abstract

The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is one of the most threatened aquatic mammals in the world. Primary threats to this species are habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and collisions with watercraft. There is relatively little data on the Antillean manatee in most of its distribution compared to other species of manatee. This lack of biological information hinders the establishment of effective conservation actions. Here I use video data collected from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) to study the behavioral budget of manatees in St George Cay, Belize. UAVs are highly effective in collecting data about species that are elusive and difficult to observe from boats, have irregular distribution, and reside in complex habitats such as the Antillean manatee. Better understanding the behavioral patterns of manatees can help to determine the ecological value of habitats for manatees and the prominent factors causing the continual population decrease. This information can also guide future conservation protocols and management strategies to increase the viability of the population in Belize.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

lmaycoll

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Environmental Sciences

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Behavioral Budget of Antillean Manatees (Tricheus manatus manatus) of St. George’s Caye, Belize

The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is one of the most threatened aquatic mammals in the world. Primary threats to this species are habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and collisions with watercraft. There is relatively little data on the Antillean manatee in most of its distribution compared to other species of manatee. This lack of biological information hinders the establishment of effective conservation actions. Here I use video data collected from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) to study the behavioral budget of manatees in St George Cay, Belize. UAVs are highly effective in collecting data about species that are elusive and difficult to observe from boats, have irregular distribution, and reside in complex habitats such as the Antillean manatee. Better understanding the behavioral patterns of manatees can help to determine the ecological value of habitats for manatees and the prominent factors causing the continual population decrease. This information can also guide future conservation protocols and management strategies to increase the viability of the population in Belize.