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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Behavioral lateralization in the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)


We examined side preferences in the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) through observations of limb use (right and left flipper) in 123 wild and 16 captive individuals.  We also analyzed archival data on wild manatees to develop an index of boat-caused body scars to determine lateralization of evasive action.  Wild and captive manatees displayed flipper lateralization at the individual, but not the population level for several behaviors including substrate touches, sculling, and feeding.  In contrast, manatees were lateralized at the population level for boat-scar biases with more manatees showing a left scar bias (45%) versus right (34%) or dorsal (21%).

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