Sirenian life history

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Abstract

Sirenians, including the manatees and dugongs, are large herbivorous mammals that have evolved to an aquatic form since the Eocene epoch. Sirenians have unique adaptations, including dense bone for ballast and a longitudinal hemidiaphragm separating paired lungs (which aid in maintaining a horizontal posture in the water column), species-specific rostral deflection, and unique dentition for specialized feeding, which all contribute to their success. All sirenians produce one calf per breeding cycle and have long calf-dependency periods. Low reproduction rates are common for long-lived, large mammals, but may compromise their existence in today’s quickly changing world today. All sirenian populations are listed as either threatened or endangered, and some local stocks have been completely extirpated by human activities.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Sirenian life history
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-12-804327-1.00230-2
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Academic Press
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 3 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Encyclopedia of marine mammals
First page 859
Last page 861