A stage-structured population model for the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) was developed that explicitly incorporates uncertainty in parameter estimates. The growth rates calculated with this model reflect the status of the regional populations over the most recent 10-yr period. The Northwest and Upper St. Johns River regions have growth rates (8) of 1.037 (95% interval, 1.016?1.056) and 1.062 (1.037?1.081), respectively. The Southwest region has a growth rate of 0.989 (0.946?1.024), suggesting this population has been declining at about 1.1% per year. The estimated growth rate in the Atlantic region is 1.010 (0.988?1.029), but there is some uncertainty about whether adult survival rates have been constant over the last 10 yr; using the mean survival rates from the most recent 5-yr period, the estimated growth rate in this region is 0.970 (0.938?0.998). Elasticity analysis indicates that the most effective management actions should seek to increase adult survival rates. Decomposition of the uncertainty in the growth rates indicates that uncertainty about population status can best be reduced through increased monitoring of adult survival rate.
Additional publication details
A stage-based model of manatee population dynamics