The dugong (Dugong dugon, Müller) is an endangered marine mammal species. We examined the relationship between sex, habitat and body length based on the skull and scapular morphology and morphometrics of 81 dugong samples in Thailand. A total of 58 parameters from the skull and scapula (25 from the cranium, 23 from the mandible and 10 from the scapula) as well as tusks were used in this study. Data were analyzed by univariate analysis, followed by discriminant analysis and multivariate linear regression. Here we show, 100% and 98.5% accuracy rates for sexing using large tusks and the skull, respectively. Scapular morphology using the caudal border tubercle and coracoid process showed 91.30% and 96.15% accuracy rates for identifying males and females. Skull morphometrics could categorize dugong habitat, i.e. living in the Andaman Sea or Gulf of Thailand, with 100% accuracy. Moreover, our model could be used to estimate body length with coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.985. The results of our study showed that skull morphology and morphometric measurements could be used as a tool for sex identification, location identification and estimation of body length. But scapular morphology is the best tool for sex identification in dugongs.
Korakot Nganvongpanit , Kittisak Buddhachat , Patcharaporn Kaewmong , Phaothep Cherdsukjai , Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong