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Digestive efficiencies of the west indian manatee trichechus manatus



Digestive efficiencies of the west indian manatee trichechus manatus



Florida Scientist 47(3): 176-179



Digestive efficiencies and consumption rates were determined for a West Indian manatee consuming water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes)and lettuce (Lactuca lactuca). The manatee's estimated in situ consumption rate of water hyacinths was low for a mammal of its size, but consistent with its very low metabolic rate. The relatively high digestive efficiencies observed (.apprx. 80% for water hyacinths and 90% for lettuce) were attributed to the low crude fiber content of plants consumed, the manatee's long retention time of forage, and its extensive intestinal tract. In contrast to other large herbivores, the manatee's consumption/digestion strategy may be characterized by slow consumption and passage rates and postgastric digestion of highly digestible forage.

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Accession: 005161652

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