Leon David Olivera Gomez
Research: Comparison of counts of endangered Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) in the Biosphere Reserve of Pantanos de Centla, Mexico and other nearby areas at Southern Gulf of Mexico
Species/Topic: Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus)
Abstract: Standardization of count procedures for Antillean manatees (an endangered aquatic mammal) within turbid fluvial environments is a high priority to planning strategies for conservation of this species. Side scan imaging sonar is a promissory tool to register and count manatees and conduct monitoring, however further analysis is needed on perception and other sources of bias and on the variability in manatee presence along watercourses. In this project, we are planning to analyze the importance of a Biosphere Reserve located at Southern Gulf of Mexico for the conservation of manatees, comparing counts made on selected watercourses within and outside the reserve, using side scan imaging sonar. To do this we will conduct counts on different times in a year and we will estimate the perception bias based on repeated counts made on different boats equipped each with a sonar unit. Results of this project will be used to propose a standardized protocol to monitor regional manatee distribution and abundance and will be useful to other regions.