[MARMAM] Digestive strategies of ex situ and in situ West Indian manatees

Graham Worthy Graham.Worthy at ucf.edu
Mon Dec 9 09:31:06 PST 2013

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following article:

G.A.J. Worthy and T.A.M. Worthy.  (2013) Digestive strategies of ex situ and in situ West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris).  Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.

Digestive efficiencies (Dm) of ex situ and in situ manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) were, for the first time, assessed using manganese (Mn2+) as a naturally occurring marker.  Dm of ex situ manatees determined using [Mn2+] did not differ significantly from Dm assessed using lignin supporting the efficacy of the manganese approach.  GI tract samples, obtained from recently dead animals, showed [Mn2+] concentrations were lowest in the stomach, remained low in the duodenum and small intestine, but increased in the cecum, colon and rectum consistent with colonic digestion and absorption.  In situ manatees consuming marine vegetation had significantly lower Dm [46.9 ± 1.8% (SE) (n = 8)] than in situ manatees consuming freshwater vegetation [77.8 ± 2.6% (n = 7)], which in turn were significantly lower than ex situ manatees consuming lettuce [84.0 ± 0.7% (n = 37)].  In situ manatees eating seagrasses had significantly higher Dm than long-term ex situ animals consuming seagrass for short periods of time (46.9 ± 1.8% versus 36.2 ± 1.2%, respectively), suggesting potential modification of gut flora over time.  One significant ramification of our results is that manatees consuming seagrasses would require a greater standing biomass to support their needs than would be required if they were eating freshwater vegetation.  This reinforces the critical need to implement habitat conservation and protection before considering down-listing or de-listing manatees as an endangered species.

The full text and PDF is available at:

Cheers, Graham Worthy
Graham A.J. Worthy, Ph.D.
Provost's Distinguished Research Professor of Biology,
Hubbs-Sea World Endowed Professor of Marine Mammalogy, and
Director, Physiological Ecology and Bioenergetics Lab

Department of Biology, University of Central Florida,
4110 Libra Dr, Room BIO402A
Orlando FL 32816-2368

Graham.Worthy at ucf.edu<mailto:Graham.Worthy at ucf.edu>

407-823-4701 office
407-823-5769 FAX
skype: graham.worthy

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because
they have to say something"   Plato

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