Bibliography and Index of the Sirenia and Desmostylia  

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"Auil Gomez, Nicole"

Hunter, Margaret E. Kellogg; Auil Gomez, Nicole E.; Tucker, K. P.; Bonde, Robert K.; Powell, James Arthur, Jr.; McGuire, Peter M. (detail)
Low genetic variation and evidence of limited dispersal in the regionally important Belize manatee.
Animal Conservation 13: 592-602. 2 tabs. 4 figs.
Auil Gomez, Nicole E. (detail)
The fate of manatees in Belize. In: M. L. D. Palomares & D. Pauly (eds.), Too precious to drill: The marine biodiversity of Belize.
Fisheries Centre Research Reports (Univ. British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada). 19-24. 2011.
–ABSTRACT: Sirenians (manatees and dugongs) are the only fully aquatic, herbivorous marine mammals existing today and Belize boasts the largest number of Antillean manatees in the world. Yet, the country's manatee population is considered threatened and may be declining. Manatees have to contend with high-speed watercraft that account for over 20% of their mortality. Also, intentional habitat alteration and industrial practices fragment and destroy the ecosystem they depend upon. Land-based effluent has decimated subaquatic vegetation and has likely compromised individual manatee health in areas such as Placencia Lagoon. High levels of toxic trace elements, including lead, were also found in manatees captured there. With limited data on the threats of contaminants to manatees, a pilot study showed that organic contaminants (polychlorinated biphenyls - PCBs) in manatees from Chetumal Bay may currently present a threat to their immune function and reproduction. Marine currents may allow PCBs to be present at a regional level. Also, as radio-tracked manatees have been documented to travel between Belize and Chetumal Bay, they are further exposed to organic compounds through inadvertent consumption of sediment during grazing. Added petrochemicals would further contaminate and destroy manatee feeding areas as the toxic components of oil are thought to accumulate in seagrass leaves, making vegetation vulnerable to these stressors. After an oil spill, manatees, dolphins and turtles are exposed to volatile hydrocarbons while traveling and feeding, as shown from surveys following the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. While experiments on captive marine mammals indicate that manatees can withstand small amounts of exposure to, or ingestion of, oil, it is not certain if these animals can detect, avoid, or leave a contaminated area before experiencing significant harmful effects. With very limited data on the effect of oil-related stressors to sirenians, we know that the threats they face today, compounded with the incalculable environmental damage of an oil-related disaster, would certainly affect the chances for survival of the endangered manatees in Belize.
Sulzner, Kathryn; Johnson, Christine Kreuder; Bonde, Robert K.; Auil Gomez, Nicole; Powell, James Arthur, Jr.; Nielsen, Klaus; Luttrell, M. Page; Osterhaus, A. D. M. E.; Aguirre, A. Alonso (detail)
Health assessment and seroepidemiologic survey of potential pathogens in wild Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus).
PLoS ONE 7(9): e44517. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044517. 11 pp. 4 tabs. 2 figs Sept. 12, 2012.
–ABSTRACT: The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, inhabits fresh, brackish, and warm coastal waters distributed along the eastern border of Central America, the northern coast of South America, and throughout the Wider Caribbean Region. Threatened primarily by human encroachment, poaching, and habitat degradation, Antillean manatees are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The impact of disease on population viability remains unknown in spite of concerns surrounding the species' ability to rebound from a population crash should an epizootic occur. To gain insight on the baseline health of this subspecies, a total of 191 blood samples were collected opportunistically from wild Antillean manatees in Belize between 1997 and 2009. Hematologic and biochemical reference intervals were established, and antibody prevalence to eight pathogens with zoonotic potential was determined. Age was found to be a significant factor of variation in mean blood values, whereas sex, capture site, and season contributed less to overall differences in parameter values. Negative antibody titers were reported for all pathogens surveyed except for Leptospira bratislava, L. canicola, and L. icterohemorrhagiae, Toxoplasma gondii, and morbillivirus. As part of comprehensive health assessment in manatees from Belize, this study will serve as a benchmark aiding in early disease detection and in the discernment of important epidemiologic patterns in the manatees of this region. Additionally, it will provide some of the initial tools to explore the broader application of manatees as sentinel species of nearshore ecosystem health.
Allen, Aarin Conrad; Beck, Cathy A.; Bonde, Robert K.; Powell, James A.; Auil Gomez, Nicole (detail)
Diet of the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in Belize, Central America.
Jour. Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 98(7): 1831-1840. 2 tabs. 1 fig. 8 appendices. doi:/10.1017/S0025315417000182 Nov. 2018 (publ. online Apr. 3, 2017).
–ABSTRACT: Belize contains important habitat for Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) and provides refuge for the highest known population density of this subspecies. As these animals face impending threats, knowledge of their dietary habits can be used to interpret resource utilization. The contents of 13 mouth, six digestive tract (stomach, duodenum and colon) and 124 faecal samples were microscopically examined using a modified point technique detection protocol to identify key plant species consumed by manatees at two important aggregation sites in Belize: Southern Lagoon and the Drowned Cayes. Overall, 15 different items were identified in samples from manatees in Belize. Five species of seagrasses (Halodule wrightii, Thalassia testudinum, Ruppia maritima, Syringodium filiforme and Halophila sp.) made up the highest percentage of items. The red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) was also identified as an important food item. Algae (Ulva sp., Chara sp., Lyngbya sp.) and invertebrates (sponges and diatoms) were also consumed. Variation in the percentage of seagrasses, other vascular plants and algae consumption was analysed as a 4-factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) with main effects and interactions for locality, sex, size classification and season. While sex and season did not influence diet composition, differences for locality and size classification were observed. These results suggest that analysis of diet composition of Antillean manatees may help to determine critical habitat and use of associated food resources which, in turn, can be used to aid conservation efforts in Belize.

Daryl P. Domning, Research Associate, Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560, and Laboratory of Evolutionary Biology, Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, Howard University, Washington, D.C. 20059.
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