[MARMAM] New publication -- Trophic Role of Manatees in an Estuary with low Abundance of Seagrass

Nataly Castelblanco natalycastelblanco at yahoo.com.br
Tue Jun 14 10:01:31 PDT 2011

Dear Marmam and Sirenian list subscribers,
Apologies for cross-posting. We are pleased to report that our following paper 
has just been published online: 


Castelblanco-Martínez, D., Barba, E., Schmitter-Soto, J., Hernández-Arana, H., 
Morales-Vela, B., 2011. The Trophic Role of the Endangered Caribbean Manatee 
Trichechus manatus; in an Estuary with low Abundance of Seagrass. ESTUARIES AND 
COASTS, 1-18. DOI 10.1007/s12237-011-9420-8.

Chetumal Bay is a refuge for the manatee, Trichechus manatus, a large and 
strictly herbivorous aquatic mammal. The ecosystem is notoriously poor in 
subaquatic vegetation, the main components of manatees’ diet. Due to the 
constant presence of manatees in the bay and their ability to consume large 
volumes of plant material, it is assumed that the species has a relevant trophic 
impact on the system. A mass–balance trophic model was designed to describe the 
flows of energy and matter in the bay, with the goal of assessing the role of 
manatees in the system. The system was aggregated in eight effective trophic 
levels. The biomass was intensely concentrated in the detritus, suggesting that 
the matter on the bottom sediment is the main regulator of the energy flow in 
the system. Primary producers comprised of detritus, mangrove, benthic 
autotrophs, and phytoplankton. The apex predators were dolphins and large 
piscivorous fishes. Manatees occupied the trophic level 2.0. and  were directly 
or indirectly impacted by autotrophs, mangrove, and detritus; but the 
competition between manatees and other groups was insignificant. In comparison 
to other ecosystems where manatees occur, Chetumal Bay (BCh) has the lowest 
relative biomass of seagrasses. Several ecological and behavioral mechanisms to 
compensate the lack of macrophytes biomass (or a combination of several) are 
suggested. Ecopath with Ecosim models are useful to describe the flow of energy 
and matter in the ecosystems. However, there are still critical gaps in the 
knowledge of BCh and its manatee population. It is difficult to assess the 
uncertainty associated with the estimates obtained; therefore, results should be 
interpreted with caution. Improving this preliminary model with robust local 
information on the Chetumal Bay ecology and its manatee population is 
Keywords Manatee . Chetumal Bay. Trophic model . Grazing . Ecology. Ecopath with 

The article can be accessed following this link,


More information upon request from me (castelblanco.nataly at gmail.com)

Have a nice day! 

Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez, Ph.D. 
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur - ECOSUR
Av. Centenario Km 5.5 C.P. 7790
Chetumal, Quintana Roo.  Mexico
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