Vocalizations of wild West Indian manatee vary across subspecies and geographic location Article uri icon


    Geographic variation in the vocal behavior of manatees has been reported but is largely unexplored. Vocalizations of wild West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) were recorded with hydrophones in Florida from Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris), and in Belize and Panama from Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) to determine if calls varied between subspecies and geographic regions. Calls were visually classified into five categories: squeaks, high squeaks, squeals, squeak-squeals, and chirps. From these five categories, only three call types (squeaks, high squeaks and squeals) were observed in all three populations. Six parameters from the temporal and frequency domains were measured from the fundamental frequency of 2878 manatee vocalizations. A repeated measures PERMANOVA found significant differences for squeaks and high squeaks between each geographic location and for squeals between Belize and Florida. Almost all measured frequency and temporal parameters of manatee vocalizations differed between and within subspecies. Variables that may have influenced the variation observed may be related to sex, body size, habitat and/or other factors. Our findings provide critical information of manatee calls for wildlife monitoring and highlight the need for further study of the vocal behavior of manatees throughout their range.

    Gabriela Pérez-Lachaud
    Yann Henaut
    Jessica D. Reyes-Arias
    Beth Brady
    Eric A. Ramos
    Marcelo O. Magnasco
    Delma Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez
    Maria Maust-Mohl
    Linda Searle
    Héctor M. Guzmán
    Kenji Contreras
    Kristi A. Collom

fecha de publicación

  • 2023


  • 13