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Updated statewide abundance estimates for the Florida manatee

December 19, 2018

Knowing how many manatees live in Florida is critical for conservation and management of this threatened species. Martin et al. (2015) flew aerial surveys in 2011–2012 and estimated abundance in those years using advanced techniques that incorporated multiple data sources. We flew additional aerial surveys in 2015–2016 to count manatees and again applied advanced statistical techniques to estimate their abundance. We also made several methodological advances over the earlier work, including accounting for how sea state (water surface conditions) and synchronous surfacing behavior affect the availability of manatees to be detected and incorporating all parts of Florida in the area of inference. We estimate that the number of manatees in Florida in 2015–2016 was 8,810 (95% Bayesian credible interval 7,520–10,280), of which 4,810 (3,820–6,010) were on the west coast of Florida and 4,000 (3,240–4,910) were on the east coast. These estimates and associated uncertainty, in addition to being of immediate value to wildlife managers, are essential new data for incorporation into integrated population models and population viability analyses.

Publication Year 2018
Title Updated statewide abundance estimates for the Florida manatee
Authors Jeffrey A. Hostetler, Holly H. Edwards, Julien Martin, Paul Schueller
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype State or Local Government Series
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number 23
Index ID 70201616
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center