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Keywords:

  • Caretta caretta;
  • Florida;
  • loggerhead;
  • marine turtle;
  • nest;
  • predation;
  • raccoon;
  • survival

Abstract

Nest predation can significantly reduce hatchling recruitment in sea turtle populations. We examined 20 yr of data from Canaveral National Seashore, Florida, which has pristine and altered beaches. We used chi-squared test to determine if secondary predation events were related to the nests' primary predation events, and proportional hazard regression analysis to determine the relative risk of individual nest predation. To determine if human beach use and nest predation risk were spatially or temporally linked, we ranked human beach use and examined predation frequency across all screened and marked nests. We found that once a nest has experienced predation it has an increased likelihood of experiencing a subsequent predation event when compared to other nests on the beach. Primary and multiple predation events occurred with greater frequency in limited beach use areas and with lowest frequency in moderate use areas. Predation risk decreased by an average of 29.5% from 2000 to 2008, relative to the initial year of study. Nests deposited mid-season were 9.8% more likely to be predated than early or late season nests. We conclude that where anti-nest predator management efforts are required but restricted (e.g., by funds, available personnel, or multiple management goals) resources should be concentrated to protect mid-season nests and those in limited access areas, if enhancing hatchling numbers is a management goal. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.