Robert Bonde, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Florida
Bob Bonde has been studying manatees for more than 34 years. He continues to work as a research biologist for the Sirenia Project of the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, Florida. His current duties include life history monitoring of the manatee population in Crystal River, Florida, consulting with the NOAA-Fisheries Working Group for Unusual Marine Mammal Mortality Events on issues related to necropsy assessment of the stranded marine mammals, participation in the USFWS Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release Program, field radio telemetry and tracking studies, supervising manatee genetic studies and biomedical health assessment, and involvement with international research projects and study design. Bonde chairs the Florida Manatee Genetics Research Working Group, and holds a full professor appointment in the graduate school of the University of Florida with a courtesy faculty position in the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department of the College of Veterinary Medicine. He serves on several University of Florida Ph.D. graduate degree committees; graduate studies include novel research on genetics, endocrinology, osteology, virology, behavior, physiology, contaminants, health monitoring, blood chemistry, and behavior. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Florida in Veterinary Medical Sciences by examining manatee genetics and conservation. In addition to over 70 scientific publications, in 2006, Bonde coauthored a book with Dr. Roger Reep, entitled, The Florida Manatee: Biology and Conservation.
Science and Products
A multi-agency effort assesses the health of manatees and provides baseline information on their health, reproductive status, and nutritional condition.
Diet of the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in Belize, Central America
Belize contains important habitat for Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) and provides refuge for the highest known population density of this subspecies. As these animals face impending threats, knowledge of their dietary habits can be used to interpret resource utilization. The contents of 13 mouth, 6 digestive tract (stomach,...Allen, Aarin Conrad; Beck, Cathy A.; Bonde, Robert K.; Powell, James A.; Gomez, Nicole Auil
Assessing welfare of individual sirenians in the wild and in captivity
Assessing the welfare of wild populations of sirenians has required a “generalist” approach. The outcome has been a subjective decision as to whether what the observers are witnessing in an individual or group of animals is normal and whether that has positive or negative consequences. The understanding of sirenian welfare requirements, and a...Flint, Mark; Bonde, Robert K.
Human interactions with sirenians (manatees and dugongs)
There are three extant sirenian species of the Trichechidae family and one living Dugongidae family member. Given their close ties to coastal and often urbanized habitats, sirenians are exposed to many types of anthropogenic activities that result in challenges to their well-being, poor health, and even death. In the wild, they are exposed to...Bonde, Robert K.; Flint, Mark
Morphometric body condition indices of wild Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
In many species, body weight (W) increases geometrically with body length (L), so W/L3 provides a body condition index (BCI) that can be used to evaluate nutritional status once a normal range has been established. No such index has been established for Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). This study was designed to determine a...Harshaw, Lauren T.; Larkin, Iskande V.; Bonde, Robert K.; Deutsch, Charles J.; Hill, Richard C.
Baseline reference range for trace metal concentrations in whole blood of wild and managed West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus) in Florida and Belize
The West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is exposed to a number of anthropogenic influences, including metals, as they inhabit shallow waters with close proximity to shore. While maintaining homeostasis of many metals is crucial for health, there is currently no baseline reference range that can be used to make clinical and environmental...Takeuchi, Noel Y.; Walsh, Michael T.; Bonde, Robert K.; Powell, James A.; Bass, Dean A.; Gaspard, Joseph C.; Barber, David S.
Seasonal response of ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor I in the free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)
Seasonal changes in light, temperature, and food availability stimulate a physiological response in an animal. Seasonal adaptations are well studied in Arctic, Sub-Arctic, and hibernating mammals; however, limited studies have been conducted in sub-tropical species. The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a sub-tropical marine...Tighe, Rachel L; Bonde, Robert K.; Avery, Julie P.
Twenty-six years of post-release monitoring of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris): evaluation of a cooperative rehabilitation program
The rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) into the wild has occurred since 1974; however, a comprehensive evaluation of the outcomes of the releases has never been conducted. Herein, we examined data for 136 Florida manatees that were rehabilitated and released with telemetry tags between 1988 and...Adimey, Nicole M.; Ross, Monica; Hall, Madison; Reid, James P.; Barlas, Margie E.; Keith Diagne, Lucy W; Bonde, Robert K.
Variation in the hindgut microbial communities of the Florida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris over winter in Crystal River, Florida
The Florida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris, is a hindgut-fermenting herbivore. In winter, manatees migrate to warm water overwintering sites where they undergo dietary shifts and may suffer from cold-induced stress. Given these seasonally induced changes in diet, the present study aimed to examine variation in the hindgut bacterial...Merson, Samuel D.; Ouwerkerk, Diane; Gulino, Lisa-Maree; Klieve, Athol; Bonde, Robert K.; Burgess, Elizabeth A.; Lanyon, Janet M.
Blood mineral concentrations in manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris and Trichechus manatus manatus)
Limited information is available regarding the role of minerals and heavy metals in the morbidity and mortality of manatees. Whole-blood and serum mineral concentrations were evaluated in apparently healthy, free-ranging Florida (Trichechus manatus latirostris, n = 31) and Belize (Trichechus manatus manatus, n = 14) manatees. Toxicologic statuses...Siegal-Willott, J.; Harr, Kendal E.; Hall, Jeffery O.; Hayek, Lee-Ann C.; Auil-Gomez, Nicole; Powell, James A.; Bonde, Robert K.; Heard, Darryl
Diversidad haplotípica en el manatí Trichechus manatus en Cuba: resultados preliminares
The aim of this analysis was to obtain information regarding the mtDNA haplotype composition of the manatee (T. manatus) occupying the Cuban archipelago. A fragment of 410 bp of the non-coding region was analyzed for 12 individual manatees from Cuba and one from Florida, USA. Only two haplotypes were identified. Haplotype A1, found exclusively in...Hernandez-Martinez, Damir; Alvarez-Aleman, Anmari; Bonde, Robert K.; Powell, James A.; Garcia-Machado, Erik
Low genetic diversity and minimal population substructure in the endangered Florida manatee: implications for conservation
Species of management concern that have been affected by human activities typically are characterized by low genetic diversity, which can adversely affect their ability to adapt to environmental changes. We used 18 microsatellite markers to genotype 362 Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris), and investigated genetic diversity,...Tucker, Kimberly Pause; Hunter, Margaret E.; Bonde, Robert K.; Austin, James D.; Clark, Ann Marie; Beck, Cathy A.; McGuire, Peter M.; Oli, Madan K.
Biomedical health assessments of the Florida manatee in Crystal River - providing opportunities for training during the capture, handling, and processing of this endangered aquatic mammal
Federal and state researchers have been involved in manatee (Trichechus manatus) biomedical health assessment programs for a couple of decades. These benchmark studies have provided a foundation for the development of consistent capture, handling, and processing techniques and protocols. Biologists have implemented training and encouraged multi-...Bonde, Robert K.; Garrett, Andrew; Belanger, Michael; Askin, Nesime; Tan, Luke; Wittnich, Carin
It may be hard to believe the legend that sailors long-at-sea once believed manatees to be mermaids. The manatee nickname the “Sea Cow” – named so for their affinity for grazing on vegetation and their slow, ambling way – just makes more sense. But a new U.S. Geological Survey video reveals that while they may be cow-like, they also have more than a bit of magical mermaid to them.