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UF researchers study manatee population, outlook

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — University of Florida researchers studying manatees say that despite a growth in population, their outlook remains risky.

A research team from UF and the U.S. Geological Survey studied genetic samples from 362 manatees. The study's lead author, Kimberly Tucker, says they found that the mammals' genetic diversity is not sufficient for them to quickly adapt to an ever-changing, often-threatening environment. Low diversity could also signal the potential for future inbreeding problems.

Tucker says researches are not seeing "any deleterious effects from it . yet."

The study's findings were published Monday in the Journal of Mammalogy.

Manatees weight as much as 3,500 pounds and can live for about 60 years. Their population has grown over the years, but the manatee is still classified as an endangered species.

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