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Model description and evaluation of the mark-recapture survival model used to parameterize the 2012 status and threats analysis for the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

November 30, 2016

This report provides supporting details and evidence for the rationale, validity and efficacy of a new mark-recapture model, the Barker Robust Design, to estimate regional manatee survival rates used to parameterize several components of the 2012 version of the Manatee Core Biological Model (CBM) and Threats Analysis (TA).  The CBM and TA provide scientific analyses on population viability of the Florida manatee subspecies (Trichechus manatus latirostris) for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 5-year reviews of the status of the species as listed under the Endangered Species Act.  The model evaluation is presented in a standardized reporting framework, modified from the TRACE (TRAnsparent and Comprehensive model Evaluation) protocol first introduced for environmental threat analyses.  We identify this new protocol as TRACE-MANATEE SURVIVAL and this model evaluation specifically as TRACE-MANATEE SURVIVAL, Barker RD version 1. The longer-term objectives of the manatee standard reporting format are to (1) communicate to resource managers consistent evaluation information over sequential modeling efforts; (2) build understanding and expertise on the structure and function of the models; (3) document changes in model structures and applications in response to evolving management objectives, new biological and ecological knowledge, and new statistical advances; and (4) provide greater transparency for management and research review.