The Drowned Cayes area of Belize, Central America is regionally important for the conservation of Antillean manatees in the Caribbean (Lefebvre et al. 2001; Quintana-Rizzo & Reynolds 2008). These islands are increasingly threatened by human activities such as tourism, development and population growth. The objective of this dissertation is to evaluate manatee habitat use and status in this area. The 5 specific objectives are to examine manatee (1) distribution in the Drowned Cayes, (2) use of seagrass beds and forage selection, (3) resting habitat use and selection (4) response to disturbance, and (5) trends in abundance and to suggest a method for monitoring manatees and other sirenians. The principal findings are that manatees utilize all habitat types within the area to meet a variety of their physiological and behavioral requirements. Some habitat types like seagrass beds and resting holes are clearly important components to the overall seascape. Manatees selectively forage on Halodule wrightii. Resting holes and seagrass beds that are adjacent to each other are a particularly important habitat configuration. Manatee habitat use seems to be resilient to mangrove removal, but foraging resources may not. Number of manatees sighted per scan over the duration of this study does not appear to have changed, but our method would not be able to detect a slight decline in abundance. Our survey protocol—point-based scan sampling from a small boat platform—is a relatively inexpensive, effective and repeatable method for monitoring sirenian population trends. By identifying important habitat types, foraging resources and resting areas, this research provides information that wildlife managers can use to promote watercraft guidelines and guide development decisions.
|Commitee:||Ebersole, John P., Hines, Ellen M., Stevenson, Robert D., Yong, Tian Q.|
|School:||University of Massachusetts Boston|
|Department:||Biology/Environmental Biology Track (PhD)|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-B 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Antillean manatees, Belize, Foraging ecology, Habitat ecology, Sirenians, Trichechus manatus|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be