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Eleventh Annual Grant Winners 2010-2011

Title: Status of the Amazonian Manatee (Manatus inunguis) in Eastern, Ecuador

Dean:
Richard Dodge, Ph.D. (OSC)             
Don Rosenblum, Ph.D. (FAR)

Faculty and Students:
Edward Keith, PhD (OSC)

Abstract:

Grant Winners 2010-2011

The Amazonian manatee (Manatus inunguis) is the smallest Sirenian and the only Sirenian found exclusively in freshwater. They inhabit rivers and floodplain lagoons in the Amazon basin in South America. The last survey of Amazonian manatees in Ecuador was published in 1984. During a brief visit to the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in northeastern Ecuador between 26-28 August 2008, I conducted boat based surveys in Laguna Canangueno, Laguna Mateo Cocha, Laguna Macurococha, and Laguna Cocodrilococha along the Cuyabeno River in northeastern Ecuador. A side-scan sonar system was used to penetrate the murky water and increase the probability of detection of the animals. Unfortunately, no manatees were detected, although this might be expected given that this area is not known as a concentration area for Amazonian manatees in Ecuador. In 2009 I received a Faquhar College of Arts and Sciences Faculty mini grant to visit the Napo Wildlife Reserve in Yasuní National Park, in eastern Ecuador.. The purpose of this exploratory visit was to investigate the logistics of travel to the area and to gather preliminary data to support this proposal. I also hoped to determine the number and distribution of manatees in this region using boat-baseed surveys and the side-scan sonar system. Although no manatees were seen on this trip, I was able to establish collaborations with personnel with the Wildlife Conservation Society - Ecuador Program. We are now proposing to visit three areas in Ecuador with a history of manatee presence and sightings in order to conduct a wide-scale assessment of the population status of the Amazonian manatee in eastern Ecuador. Ths project will provide a thesis project for an NSU Oceanographic Center graduate student at the author level, and NSU undergraduate students in the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences will be inolved in data analysis.