Use of artificial nests to investigate predation on freshwater turtle nests


Habitat fragmentation has raised concerns that populations of generalist predators have increased and are affecting a diverse group of prey. Previous research has included the use of artificial nests to investigate the role of predation on birds that nest on or near the ground. Because predation also is a major factor limiting populations of freshwater turtles, we examined the potential of using artificial nests in identifying factors that limit recruitment. We buried eggs of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) to simulate turtle nests and placed remotely triggered cameras at a sample of nests to identify predators. Twenty-two percent of all nests were either depredated or disturbed within 7 days of placement. The proportion of nests depredated decreased with increasing distance from the edge of ponds. Predation was greater on nests within 50 m of pond edges than nests farther from pond edges. Clumped nests were depredated at a greater rate than scattered nests. Remotely triggered cameras at nests indicated that raccoons (Procyon lotor) were the most frequent nest predators. Some potential biases associated with the use of artificial nests in avian studies (e.g., lack of parental care) might not apply to the application of artificial nests in studies of turtle demography. We conclude that artificial nests might be useful to investigate factors that limit populations of freshwater turtles.

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Wildlife Society Bulletin


John Wiley and Sons

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This is an article published by Wiley in Wildlife Society Bulletin in 2002, available online: https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/14346

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