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Mapping risk for nest predation on a barrier island

September 1, 2013

Barrier islands and coastal beach systems provide nesting habitat for marine and estuarine turtles. Densely settled coastal areas may subsidize nest predators. Our purpose was to inform conservation by providing a greater understanding of habitat-based risk factors for nest predation, for an estuarine turtle. We expected that habitat conditions at predated nests would differ from random locations at two spatial extents. We developed and validated an island-wide model for the distribution of predated Diamondback terrapin nests using locations of 198 predated nests collected during exhaustive searches at Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge, USA. We used aerial photographs to identify all areas of possible nesting habitat and searched each and surrounding environments for nests, collecting location and random-point microhabitat data. We built models for the probability of finding a predated nest using an equal number of random points and validated them with a reserve set (N = 67). Five variables in 9 a priori models were used and the best selected model (AIC weight 0.98) reflected positive associations with sand patches near marshes and roadways. Model validation had an average capture rate of predated nests of 84.14 % (26.17–97.38 %, Q1 77.53 %, median 88.07 %, Q3 95.08 %). Microhabitat selection results suggest that nests placed at the edges of sand patches adjacent to upland shrub/forest and marsh systems are vulnerable to predation. Forests and marshes provide cover and alternative resources for predators and roadways provide access; a suggestion is to focus nest protection efforts on the edges of dunes, near dense vegetation and roads.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Mapping risk for nest predation on a barrier island
DOI 10.1007/s11852-013-0260-5
Authors Amanda D. Hackney, Robert F. Baldwin, Patrick G.R. Jodice
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Coastal Conservation
Series Number
Index ID 70148160
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

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