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Robert Bonde

Research Biologist

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Short Biography

Bob Bonde has been studying manatees for more than 34 years. He continues to work as a research biologist for the Sirenia Project of the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, Florida.  His current duties include life history monitoring of the manatee population in Crystal River, Florida, consulting with the NOAA-Fisheries Working Group for Unusual Marine Mammal Mortality Events on issues related to necropsy assessment of the stranded marine mammals, participation in the USFWS Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release Program, field radio telemetry and tracking studies, supervising manatee genetic studies and biomedical health assessment, and involvement with international research projects and study design. Bob chairs the Florida Manatee Genetics Research Working Group. Dr. Bonde holds a full professor appointment in the graduate school of the University of Florida with a courtesy faculty position in the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department of the College of Veterinary Medicine. He serves on several University of Florida PhD graduate degree committees: graduate studies include novel research on genetics, endocrinology, osteology, virology, behavior, physiology, contaminants, health monitoring, blood chemistry, and behavior. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Florida in Veterinary Medical Sciences by examining manatee genetics and conservation. In addition to over 70 scientific publications, in 2006, Bob coauthored a book with Dr. Roger Reep, entitled, The Florida Manatee: Biology and Conservation.





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1.      Beck, C.A., R.K. Bonde and D.K. Odell. 1981. Manatee mortality in Florida during 1978. Pages 76‑85 in The West Indian Manatee in Florida (R.L. Brownell, Jr. and K. Ralls, eds.). Proceedings of a workshop held in Orlando, Florida, 27‑29 March 1978. Florida Dept. of Natural Resources, Tallahassee. 157 pp.

2.      Beck, C.A., R.K. Bonde and G.B. Rathbun. 1982. Analyses of propeller wounds on manatees in Florida. Journal of Wildlife Management 46(2):531‑535.

3.      Bonde, R.K. 1982. Do manatees have a chance? Whalewatcher 16(1):3‑5.

4.      Medway, W., W.J. Dodds, A.C. Moynihan and R.K. Bonde. 1982. Blood coagulation in the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Cornell Veterinarian 72(2):120‑127.

5.      Rathbun, G.B., R.K. Bonde and D. Clay. 1982. The status of the West Indian manatee on the Atlantic Coast north of Florida.  Pages 152‑165 in Proceedings of the Symposium on Nongame and Endangered Wildlife (R. R. Odom and J. W. Guthrie, eds.). Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources, Game and Fish Division, Technical Bulletin WL5. 179 pp.

6.      Bonde, R.K., T.J. O'Shea and C.A. Beck. 1983. A manual of procedures for the salvage and necropsy of carcasses of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). National Technical Information Service, PB83‑255273, Springfield, Virginia. 175 pp.

7.      Buergelt, C.D. and R.K. Bonde. 1983. Toxoplasmic meningoencephalitis in a West Indian manatee. Journal of the American Medical Association 183(1):1294‑1296.

8.      Buergelt, C.D., R.K. Bonde, C.A. Beck and T.J. O'Shea. 1984. Pathologic findings on manatees from Florida. Journal of the American Medical Association 185(11):1331‑1334.

9.      O'Shea, T.J., C.A. Beck, R.K. Bonde, H.I. Kochman and D.K. Odell. 1985. An analysis of manatee mortality patterns in Florida, 1976‑81. Journal of Wildlife Management 49(1):1‑11.

10.  Watson, A.G. and R.K. Bonde. 1986. Congenital malformations of the flipper in three West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus), and a proposed mechanism for development of ectrodactyly and cleft hand in mammals. Clinical Orthopaedics 202:294‑301.

11.  Bonde, R.K. and T.J. O'Shea. 1989. Sowerby's beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens) in the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy 70(2):447-449.

12.  Reid, J.P. and R.K. Bonde. 1990. Alligator mississippiensis (American alligator). Diet. Herpetological Review 21(3):59.

13.  Mou, L., D.H. Chen, R.K. Bonde and T.J. O'Shea. 1990. Distribution and status of manatees (Trichechus manatus) in Panama. Marine Mammal Science 6(3):234-241.

14.  Buergelt, C.D., R.K. Bonde, C.A. Beck and T.J. O'Shea. 1990. Myxomatous transformation of heart valves in Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 21(2):220-227.

15.  Bonde, R.K. and C.A. Beck. 1990. How the Florida manatees fare today. Whalewatcher 24(1):8-9.

16.  O'Shea, T.J., G.B. Rathbun, R.K. Bonde, C.D. Buergelt and D.K. Odell. 1991. An epizootic of Florida manatees associated with a dinoflagellate bloom. Marine Mammal Science 7(2):165-179.

17.  Bonde, R. K. 1993. Manatees in Florida: A personal perspective. Whalewatcher 27(1):16-18.

18.  Reid, J.P., R.K. Bonde, D.E. Easton and H.I. Kochman. 1994. 1993 Annual report on the radio telemetry of manatees in Puerto Rico. National Biological Survey, Gainesville, Florida. 24 pp.

19.  Ackerman, B.B., S.D. Wright, R.K. Bonde, D.K. Odell and D.J. Banowetz. 1995. Trends and patterns in manatee mortality in Florida, 1974-1991. Pages 223-258 in O'Shea, T.J., B.B. Ackerman, and H.F. Percival, eds., Population Biology of the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). National Biological Service, Information Technology Report 1. 289 pp.

20.  Rathbun, G.B., J.P. Reid, R.K. Bonde and J.A. Powell. 1995. Reproduction in free-ranging West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus). Pages 135-156 in O'Shea, T.J., B.B. Ackerman and H.F. Percival, eds., Population Biology of the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). National Biological Service, Information Technology Report 1. 289 pp.

21.  Reid, J.P., R.K. Bonde and T.J. O'Shea. 1995. Reproduction and mortality of radio-tagged and recognizable manatees on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Pages 171-191 in O'Shea, T.J., B.B. Ackerman and H.F. Percival, eds., Population Biology of the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). National Biological Service, Information Technology Report 1. 289 pp.

22.  Wright, S.D., B.B. Ackerman, R.K. Bonde, C.A. Beck and D.J. Banowetz. 1995. Analysis of watercraft related mortality of manatees in Florida, 1979-1991. Pages 259-268 in O'Shea, T.J., B.B. Ackerman and H.F. Percival, eds., Population Biology of the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). National Biological Service, Information Technology Report 1. 289 pp.

23.  Morales-Vela, B., A. Ortega-Argueta, J. Padilla-Saldivar and R.K. Bonde. 1997. Monitoreo de manaties marcados con radiotransmisores en Quintana Roo.  Chapter 3. Pages 39-86 in Variacion genetica del manati (Trichechus manatus), en el sureste de Mexico y monitoreo con radiotransmiores en Quintana Roo. Edited by B. Morales-Vela. Technical Report of El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Quintana Roo, Mexico. 86 pp.

24.  Deutsch, C.J., R.K. Bonde and J.P. Reid. 1998. Radio-tracking manatees from land and space: tag design, implementation, and lessons learned from long-term study. Marine Technical Society Journal 32:18-29.

25.  Garcia-Rodriguez, A.I., B.W. Bowen, D. Domning, A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, M. Marmontel, R.A. Montoya-Ospina, B. Morales-Vela, M. Rudin, R.K. Bonde and P.M. McGuire. 1998.  Phylogeography of the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus): How many populations and how many taxa? Molecular Ecology 7:1137-1149.

26.  Mignucci-Giannoni A.A., R.A. Montoya-Ospina, N.M. Jimenez-Marrero, M.A. Rodriguez-Lopez, E.H. Williams and R.K. Bonde. 2000. Manatee mortality in Puerto Rico. Environmental Management 25(2):189-198.

27.  Carr, T. and R.K. Bonde. 2000. Tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis) occurs in Nicaragua, 800 km north of its previously known range. Marine Mammal Science 16(2):447-452.

28.  Eros, C., H. Marsh, R. Bonde, C. Beck, T. O’Shea, C. Recchia and K. Dobbs. 2000. Procedures for the salvage and necropsy of the dugong (Dugong dugon). Research Publication No. 64, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Australia. 74 pp.

29.  Bonde, R.K. and L.W. Lefebvre. 2001. Manatees in the Gulf of Mexico. Pages 35-40 in McKay, M., J. Nides, W. Lang and D. Vigil, eds., Gulf of Mexico Marine Protected Species Workshop, June 1999.  U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, New Orleans, Louisiana. OCS Study MMS 2001-039. 171 pp + xv.

30.  Lander, M.E., A.J. Westgate, R.K. Bonde and M.J. Murray. 2001. Tagging and tracking. Chapter 38. Pages 851-880 in L.A. Dierauf and F.M.D. Gulland, eds., CRC Handbook of Marine Mammal Medicine, 2nd Edition. CRC Press, New York. 1063 pp.

31.  Gray, B.A., R.T. Zori, P.M. McGuire and R.K. Bonde. 2002. A first generation cytogenetic ideogram for the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) based on multiple chromosome banding techniques. Hereditas 137:215-223.

32.  Deutsch, C.J., J.P. Reid, R.K. Bonde, D.E. Easton, H.I. Kochman and T.J. O’Shea. 2003. Seasonal movements, migratory behavior, and site fidelity of West Indian manatees along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. The Wildlife Society, Wildlife Monographs, No. 151:1-77.

33.  Aguirre, A.A., R.K. Bonde and J.A. Powell. 2003. Biology, tracking and health assessment of Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus). Verh.ber. Erkrg. Zooliere 41:233-236.

34.  Williams, E.H., A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, L. Bunkley-Williams, R.K. Bonde, C. Self-Sullivan, A. Preen and V.G. Cockcroft. 2003. Echeneid-sirenian associations, with information on sharksucker diet. Journal Fishery Biology 63:1-8. 

35.  Bonde, R.K., A.A. Aguirre and J. Powell. 2004. Manatees as sentinels of marine ecosystem health: Are they the 2000-pound canaries? EcoHealth 1:255-262.

36.  Moore, M.J., A.R. Knowlton, S.D. Kraus, W.A. McLellan and R.K. Bonde. 2004. Morphometry, gross morphology and available histopathology in North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) mortalities (1970 to 2002). Journal of Cetacean Research & Management 6:199-214.

37.  Woodruff, R.A., R.K. Bonde, J.A. Bonilla and C.H. Romero. 2005. Molecular identification of a papilloma virus from cutaneous lesions of captive and free-ranging Florida manatees. Journal Wildlife Diseases 41(2):437-441.

38.  Vianna, J.A., R.K. Bonde, S. Caballero, J.P. Giraldo, R.P. Lima, A. Clark, M. Marmontel, B. Morales-Vela, M.J. de Souza, L. Parr, M.A. Rodriguez-Lopez, A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, J.A. Powell and F.R. Santos. 2006. Phylogeography, phylogeny and hybridization in trichechid sirenians: implications for manatee conservation. Molecular Ecology 15:433-447.

39.  Bledsoe, E.L., K.E. Harr, M.F. Cichra, E.J. Philips, R.K. Bonde and M. Lowe. 2006. A comparison of biofouling communities associated with free-ranging and captive Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus). Maine Mammal Science 22(4):997-1003

40.  Reep, R.L. and R.K. Bonde. 2006. The Florida Manatee: Biology and Conservation. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. xvi + 189 pp.

41.  Pause, K.C., R.K. Bonde, P.M. McGuire, R.T. Zori and B.A. Gray. 2006. G-banded karyotype and ideogram for the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Journal of Heredity 97(3):303-306.

42.  Harr, K., J. Harvey, R. Bonde, D. Murphy, M. Lowe, M. Menchaca, E. Haubold and R. Francis-Floyd. 2006. Comparison of methods used to diagnose generalized inflammatory disease in manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 37(2):151-159.

43.  Siegal-Willott, J., A. Estrada, R. Bonde, A. Wong, D.J. Estrada and K. Harr. 2006. Electrocardiography in two subspecies of manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris and T. m. manatus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 37(4):447-453.

44.  Moore, M.J., W.A. McLellan, P-Y. Daoust, R.K. Bonde and A.R. Knowlton. 2007. Chapter 12. Right whale mortality: a message from the dead to the living. Pages 358-379 in S.D. Kraus and R. Rolland, eds., The Urban Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales at the Crossroads. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 543 pages.

45.  Auil, N., J.A. Powell, R. Bonde, K. Andrewin and J. Galves. 2007. Belize Conservation Programme: Ten Year Study. Wildlife Trust Project Report, May 2007. 29 pages.

46.  Pardini, A.T., P.C.M. O'Brien, B. Fu, R.K. Bonde, F.F.B. Elder, M.A. Ferguson-Smith, F. Yang and T.J. Robinson. 2007. Chromosome painting among Proboscidea, Hyracoidea and Sirenia: support for Paenungulata (Afrotheria, Mammalia) but not Tethytheria. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274: 1333-1340.

47.  Harvey, J.W., K.E. Harr, D. Murphy, M.T. Walsh, E.J. Chittick, R.K. Bonde, M.G. Pate, C.J. Deutsch, H.H. Edwards and E.M. Haubold. 2007. Clinical biochemistry in healthy manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 38(2):269-279.

48.  Eros, C., H. Marsh, R. Bonde, C. Beck, T. O’Shea, C. Recchia and K. Dobbs. 2007. Procedures for the salvage and necropsy of the dugong (Dugong dugon). Second edition. Research Publication No. 85, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Australia. 98 pp.

49.  Pause, K.C., C. Nourisson, A. Clark, M.E. Kellogg, R.K. Bonde and P.M. McGuire. 2007. Polymorphic microsatellite DNA markers for the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Molecular Ecology Notes 7(6):1073-1076.

50.  Harr, K.E., K. Allison, R.K. Bonde, D. Murphy and J.W. Harvey. 2008. Comparison of blood aminotransferase methods for assessment of myopathy and hepatopathy in Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 39(4):180-187.

51.  Stavros, H-C.W., R.K. Bonde and P.A. Fair. 2008. Concentrations of trace elements in blood and skin of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Marine Pollution Bulletin 56:1221-1225.

52.  Tripp, K.M., J.P. Verstegen, C.J. Deutsch, R.K. Bonde, M. Rodriguez, B. Morales, D.L. Schmitt and K.E. Harr. 2008. Validation of a serum immunoassay to measure progesterone and diagnose pregnancy in the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Theriogenology 70:1030-1040.

53.  Bonde, R.K. 2008. Conservation: saving Florida's manatees. WetPixel Quarterly 4:50-54. (IP-007402)

54.  Lanyon, J.M., H.L. Sneath, D. Blade, T. Long and R.K. Bonde. 2009. Physiological response of wild dugongs (Dugong dugon) to sampling for health assessment. ARAZPA Conference and Proceedings, 22-26 March 2009, Gold Coast, Australia.

55.  Harvey, J.W., K.E. Harr, D. Murphy, M.T. Walsh, E.C. Nolan, R.K. Bonde, M.G. Pate, C.J. Deutsch, H.H. Edwards and W.L. Clapp. 2009. Hematology of healthy Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus). Veterinary Clinical Pathology 38(2):183-193.

56.  Lanyon, J.M., H. Sneath, J.R. Ovenden, D. Broderick and R.K. Bonde. 2009. Sexing sirenians: validation of visual and molecular sex determination in both wild dugongs (Dugong dugon) and Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Aquatic Mammals 35(2):187-192.

57.  Bonde, R.K. 2009. Population genetics and conservation of the Florida manatee: past, present, and future. PhD Dissertation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. 144pp.

58.   Hunter, M.K., D. Broderick, J.R. Ovenden, K.P. Tucker, R.K. Bonde, P.M. McGuire and J.M. Lanyon. 2010. Characterization of highly informative cross-species microsatellite panels for the Australian dugong (Dugong dugon) and Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) including five novel primers. Molecular Ecology Resources 10:368-377.

59.  Lanyon, J.M., H.L. Sneath, T. Long and R.K. Bonde. 2010. Physiological response of wild dugongs (Dugong dugon) to out-of-water sampling for health assessment. Aquatic Mammals 36:46-58. (IP-015810)

60.  Alves-Stanley, C.D., G.A.J. Worthy and R.K. Bonde. 2010. Feeding preferences of the West Indian manatee in Florida, Belize, and Puerto Rico as indicated by stable isotope analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 402:255-267. (IP-016335)

61.  Tripp, K.M., J.P. Verstegen, C.J. Deutsch, R.K. Bonde, M. deWit, C. Manire, J. Gaspard and K.E. Harr. 2010. Evaluation of adrenocortical function in Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Zoo Biology 29:1-15. (IP-009224)

62.  Hunter, M.E., N.E. Auil-Gomez, K.P. Tucker, R.K. Bonde, J. Powell and P.M. McGuire. 2010. Little genetic variation and evidence of limited dispersal in the regionally important Belize manatee. Animal Conservation 13:592-602.

63.  Nourisson, C., B. Morales-Vela, J. Padilla-Saldivar, K.P. Tucker, A.M. Clark, L.D. Olivera, R.K. Bonde and P. McGuire. 2011. Evidence of two genetic clusters of manatees with low genetic diversity in Mexico and implications for their conservation. Genetica 139:833-842. DOI: 10.1007/s10709-011-9583-z. (IP-026651)

64.  Wilson, R.C., J.E. Reynolds III, D.L. Wetzel, L. Scheurzke-Wade, R.K. Bonde, K.F. Breuel and W.E. Roudebush. 2011. Secretion of anti-Müllerian hormone in the Florida manatee Trichechus manatus latirostris, with implications for assessing conservation status. Endangered Species Research 14:107-112. DOI: 10.3354/esr00346. (IP-025151)

65.  Dona, M.G., M. Rehtanz, N.M. Adimey, G.D. Bossart, A.B. Jensen, R.K. Bonde and S. Ghim (Note Dr. Bonde is corresponding author). 2011. Seroepidemiology of TmPV-1 infection in captive and wild Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47:673-684. (IP-021750)

66.  Harr, K.E., R. Rember, P.E. Ginn, J. Lightsey, M. Keller, J. Reid and R.K Bonde. 2011. Serum amyloid A (SAA) as a biomarker of chronic infection due to boat strike trauma in a free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) with incidental polycystic kidneys. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47(4):1026-1031. (IP-015809)

67.  Wong, A.W., R.K. Bonde, J. Siegal-Willott, M.A. Stamper, J. Colee, J.A. Powell, J.P. Reid, C. Deutsch and K.E. Harr. 2012. Monitoring oral temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate of West Indian manatees during capture and handling in the field. Aquatic Mammals 38(1):1-16. DOI: 10.1578/AM.38.1.2012.1. (IP-025468)

68.  Stamper, M.A. and R.K. Bonde. 2012. Health assessment of captive and wild-caught West Indian manatees. Chapter 16. Pages 139-147 in Hines, Reynolds, Aragones, Mignucci-Giannoni, Marmontel, eds., Sirenian Conservation: Issues and Strategies in Developing Countries. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. 326 pp. (IP-009203)

69.  Bonde, R.K., A. Mignucci-Giannoni and G. Bossart. 2012. Sirenian pathology and mortality assessment. Chapter 17. Pages 148-156 in Hines, Reynolds, Aragones, Mignucci-Giannoni, Marmontel, eds., Sirenian Conservation: Issues and Strategies in Developing Countries. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. 326 pp. (IP-009430)

70.  Luna, F.O., R.K. Bonde, F.N. Attademo, J.W. Saunders, G. Meigs-Friend, J.Z.O. Passavante and M.E. Hunter. 2012. Phylogeographic implications for release of critically endangered manatee calves rescued in Northeast Brazil. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 22:665.672. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2260. (IP-031095)

71.  Sulzner, K., C.K. Johnson, R.K. Bonde, N. Auil Gomez, J. Powell, K. Nielsen, M.P. Luttrell, A.D.M.E. Osterhaus and A. A.A. Aguirre. 2012. Health assessment and seroepidemiologic survey of potential pathogens in wild Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus). PLos ONE 7(9):1-11. (IP-037613)

72.  Bonde, R.K., P.M. McGuire and M.E. Hunter. 2012. Genetic tools to assist imperiled species conservation: Analyzing the West Indian manatee population. Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology 5(1):8-19. (IP-037845)

73.  Bonde, R.K. 2012. Ecology for conserving our sirenians. Book review of Ecology and conservation of the Sirenia: dugongs and manatees by H. Marsh, T.J. O'Shea & J.E. Reynolds III. Ecology 93(9):2127-2128. (IP-037865)

74.  Bossart, G.D., A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, A.L. Rivera-Guzman, N.M. Jimenez-Marrero, A. Camus, R.K. Bonde,  J.P. Dubey and J.S. Reif. 2012. Disseminated toxoplasmosis in Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) from Puerto Rico. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 101:139-144. (IP-038778)

75.  Hunter, M.E., A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, K.P. Tucker, T.L. King, R.K. Bonde, B.A. Gray and P.M. McGuire. 2012. Puerto Rico and Florida manatees represent genetically distinct groups. Conservation Genetics 13(6):1623-1635. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-012-0141-2. (IP-031095)

76.  Tucker, K.P., M.E. Hunter, R.K. Bonde, J.D. Austin, A.M. Clark, C.A. Beck, P.M. McGuire and M.K. Oli. 2012. Genetic diversity and population structure in the endangered Florida manatee: implications for conservation. Journal of Mammalogy 93(6):1504-1511. (IP-0)

77.  Bonde, R.K., A. Garrett, M. Berlanger, N. Askin, L. Tan and C. Wittnich. 2012. Biomedical health assessments of the Florida manatee in Crystal River - providing opportunities for training during the capture, handling, and processing of this unique aquatic mammal. Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology 5(2):17-28. (IP-042685)

78.  Siegal-Willott, J.L., K.E. Harr, J.O. Hall, L.C. Hayek, N. Auil-Gomez, J.A. Powell, R.K. Bonde and D.H. Heard. 2013. Blood mineral concentrations in manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris and Trichechus manatus manatus). Journal Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 44(2):285-294. (IP-037334)

79.  Hernández Martínez, D., A. ÁlvarezAlemán, R.K.Bonde, J.A. Powell and E. GarcíaMachado. 2013. Diversidad haplotípica en el manatí Trichechus manatus en Cuba: Resultados preliminaries. Revista de Investigaciones Marinas 33(2):5861. (IP-051908)

80.  Merson, S.D., D. Ouwerkerk, L-M. Gulino, A. Klieve, R.K. Bonde, E.A. Burges and J.M. Lanyon. 2014. Variation in the hindgut microbial communities of the Florida Manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris over winter in Crystal River, Florida. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 87:601-615. DOI: 10.111/1574-6941.12248. (IP-044337)

81.  Bonde, R.K. 2014. Manatee research on the Florida manatee: four decades and continuing. Article in Portuguese. Revista A Bordo, Projeto Viva o Peixe-Boi Marinho, Edicao 4, 16-17. (IP-059603)

82.  Walsh, C.J., M. Butawan, J. Yordy, R. Ball, L. Flewelling, M. deWit and R.K. Bonde. 2015. Sublethal red tide toxin exposure in free-ranging manatees (Trichechus manatus) affects the immune system through reduced lymphocyteproliferation responses, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Aquatic Toxicology 161:73-84. DOI: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2015.01.019. (IP-060017)

83.  Slone, D.H., J.P. Reid, S.M. Butler, R.K. Bonde, M.E. Hunter and W.J. Kenworthy. 2015. Survey for the West Indian manatee at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. USGS Contract Report to Navy, MIPR# N60514-12-MP-001GO. 82pp. (IP-070160)

84.  Tighe, R.L., R.K. Bonde and J.P Avery. 2016. Seasonal response of ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor I in the free-ranging Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Mammalian Biology 18:247-254. DOI: 10.1016/j.mambio.2016.02.006. (IP-065956)

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Climate Variability & Change

Recent Accomplishments

Genetics. Initially recognizing genetics as an important component in understanding endangered manatee recovery, Dr. Bob Bonde’s research led to his fine-scale analyses of manatee population genetics for his doctoral degree, and nurtured multiple studies that dealt with basic biology and physiology of manatees. Utilizing a team approach with the integration of fellow graduate students, the program has accelerated over the last decade and provided critical information on manatee population genetics. This information has been used by managers in employing adaptive management policies. For example, manatees are not intentionally moved from one stock, or area, to another based on genotyping of individuals. Bob’s involvement with genetics has also spearheaded innovative research opportunities within the SESC with novel studies on the manatee transcriptome using state-of-the-art emerging technologies and various general conservation genetics studies. Dr. Bonde’s lab now integrates genetic research efforts with fellow researchers on several species within the SESC. Additional efforts have focused on integration of genetic information with traditional photographic methods for identifying unique individuals. These genetic fingerprints will complement the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System (MIPS), the database that allows modeling of life history parameters to assess population status. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the health and genetic fitness of the Florida manatee population because of the low allelic diversity and heterozygosity discovered in the recent fine-scale studies. This research has led to reclassification of the West Indian manatee (defined by the ESA) for the USFWS into two separate management stocks, the Florida and Puerto Rico populations. This has had significant political implications with respect to current recovery plans and thresholds. Dr. Bonde organized and led a Sirenian Genetics Conference in 2008 with over 100 attendees from management and research.


Health assessment. Over the last five years Dr. Bonde has led an effort to integrate valuable health and risk assessment studies into manatee research. These extensive studies have been conducted in Belize, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Recently these efforts have been employed by other sirenian researchers in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and West Africa, all working collaboratively with Bob. The health assessment research was fundamentally designed by Bob to strengthen our base-line assumptions about population parameters as they relate to manatee status. With impending changes looming on the horizon with the loss of artificial warm water sites (such as power plants), manatees will need to adjust their distributions. In order for them to survive cold winters more manatees will be forced to utilize natural sources, such as the artesian springs found in north Florida. Ongoing health assessments will assist managers in predicting the impacts on local population growth rates due to a more limited carrying capacity of habitat, with ever increasing anthropogenic threats.


A new battery of diagnostic tools, technologies, and methodologies employed by Bob has allowed a better understanding of manatee health status. Ultrasound, electrocardiogram (ECG), temperature recorders, O2 and CO2 sensors, infrared heat detectors, and ophthalmological instruments are now employed during the examinations. The capture and assessment teams are coordinated by Dr. Bonde and consist of biologists and veterinarians representing federal, state and local governmental agencies. For each manatee, the exam includes monitoring of the heart rate, respiration, and body temperature; a complete physical examination, including documentation of lesions or wounds using digital photography and complete body measurements; blood collection for analyses of hematologic and serum chemistry analytes, and immunologic and reproductive parameters; ultrasound of subcutaneous fat layers; and analyses of feces, urine, and collection of skin biopsies. Blood is drawn under sterile conditions from the flipper, centrifuged for plasma and serum separation, and submitted for analyses. Other laboratory tests are employed when necessary. A multitude of tissue samples has been amassed and archived for base-line comparisons, as well as for future collaborative research projects.


International outreach. Dr. Bonde’s expertise has been sought by international colleagues as they face issues related to understanding sirenian populations in their countries. Through training and outreach, with the encouragement of local in-country participation, long-term projects have been established. For example, in Belize a project was initiated in 1997 by Dr. Bonde and Dr. Powell of Sea to Shore Alliance to conduct baseline research on manatees by employing radio tagging and biomedical assessments. Commitment to that long-term project continues today. Results from that program have strengthened conservation measures to protect the manatees in Belize. Bob has also assisted graduate students from Australia, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Thailand, and Venezuela with research projects. 


Necropsy. Dr. Bonde has been recognized as a world authority on marine mammal necropsy technique and protocol. He began collecting biological information from sirenian and cetacean carcasses in the late 1970’s. He is author of a manatee necropsy manual from 1983 (with subsequent revisions) that has laid the foundation for all manatee necropsy examinations to date. Versions of the necropsy manual have been distributed in Spanish and French to international colleagues. Bob also contributed to a similar dugong necropsy manual in 2000 and again in 2007. Dr. Bonde has also been appointed by NOAA Fisheries as a Necropsy Team Leader for large whale necropsies conducted along the east coast of the U.S. This includes the highly endangered Atlantic right whale. In this capacity, Dr. Bonde has provided expert testimony to the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, Marine Mammal Commission, State Department, and DOI. As recently as January 2010, he was asked by colleagues at the Florida Wildlife Research Institute to assist in an unusual mortality event of manatees affected by a severely cold winter.


Public outreach. Bob Bonde authored a book with Dr. Roger Reep of the University of Florida in 2006. That book, The Florida Manatee: Biology and Conservation, has been a vehicle for bringing the research community into the main-stream of public thinking. It was written for the educated reader to easily follow and illustrates research findings/endeavors as well as interesting bits of information about the manatee. It highlights stories about the field experiences conducted by Dr. Bonde while dedicating his career to research on the manatee. Bob has also been featured in 25 full-length film documentaries on manatee conservation, along with over 100 outreach clips on television, radio, and in the press.

Contact Information

Robert Bonde
7920 NW 71St Street
Gainesville, FL 32653
352-378-4956 - Fax
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