Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Genetic composition and connectivity of the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in Panama

September 29, 2017

Genetic diversity and haplotype composition of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) population from the San San Pond Sak wetland in Bocas del Toro, Panama was studied using a segment of mitochondrial DNA (D’loop). No genetic information has been published to date for Panamanian populations. Due to the secretive behavior and small population size of the species in the area, DNA extraction was conducted from opportunistically collected fecal (N=20), carcass tissue (N=4) and bone (N=4) samples. However, after DNA processing only 10 samples provided good quality DNA for sequencing (3 fecal, 4 tissue and 3 bone samples). We found three haplotypes in total; two of these haplotypes are reported for the first time, J02 (N=3) and J03 (N=4), and one J01 was previously published (N=3). Genetic diversity showed similar values to previous studies conducted in other Caribbean regions with moderate values of nucleotide diversity (π= 0.00152) and haplotipic diversity (Hd= 0.57). Connectivity assessment was based on sequence similarity, genetic distance and genetic differentiation between San San population and other manatee populations previously studied. The J01 haplotype found in the Panamanian population is shared with populations in the Caribbean mainland and the Gulf of Mexico showing a reduced differentiation corroborated with Fst value between HSSPS and this region of 0.0094. In contrast, comparisons between our sequences and populations in the Eastern Caribbean (South American populations) and North Western Caribbean showed fewer similarities (Fst =0.049 and 0.058, respectively). These results corroborate previous phylogeographic patterns already established for manatee populations and situate Panamanian populations into the Belize and Mexico cluster. In addition, these findings will be a baseline for future studies and comparisons with manatees in other areas of Panama and Central America. These results should be considered to inform management decisions regarding conservation of genetic diversity, future controlled introductions, connectivity and effective population size of the West Indian manatee along the Central American corridor.

Publication Year 2017
Title Genetic composition and connectivity of the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in Panama
DOI 10.1578/AM.43.4.2017.378
Authors Edgardo Díaz-Ferguson, Margaret Hunter, Héctor M. Guzmán
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Aquatic Mammals
Index ID 70191210
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center