Food plants eaten by Amazonian manatees (Trichechus inunguis, Mammalia: Sirenia)

Colares, Ioni Gonçalves; Colares, Elton Pinto


To determine the feeding habits of the Amazonian manatee Trichechus inunguis in some Central Amazonian rivers and lakes, we compared plant epidermis found in the stomach contents and/or faeces of animals with a reference collection of plants present in the studied areas. Twenty five samples from digestive tracts of animals found dead and 25 faeces samples found floating were analyzed. From these samples, 24 aquatic macrophytes were identified. The Gramineae family was identified in 96% of the samples, Paspalum repens and Echinochloa polystachya being the most abundant in the samples. The second most frequent family was the Pontederiaceae primarily Eichhornia crassipes. During the high water period, the animals showed a more selective diet (eight identified species). In the low water period, when food was more scarce, the animals showed a larger diversity of species in their diet (21 species of plants). Differences in the diet among the two studied areas reflected the physiographics characteristics of the region. Amazonian manatees fed mostly on emergent plants.

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