Turtle nest predation and predator foraging patterns in Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia
LE3 .A278 1998
Bachelor of Science
The Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is a northern fresh water species that inhabits Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia. This population was designated 'Threatened' by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) in 1993. The Blanding's Turtle Recovery Plan has identified nest predation as a primary cause of low recruitment into the adult breeding population. However, quantitative data pertaining to nest predation are lacking. Oickle (1997) investigated raccoon (Procyon lotor) spatial ecology in relation to predation on Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) and Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) nests. The purpose of the present study was to complement the existing data on turtle nest predation. Collection of data through nest monitoring, raccoon live-trapping, radio tracking and fluorescent powder tracking took place in Kejimkujik National Park from May to August, 1997. Since 1989, Blanding's turtle nests have been screened against predation. However, in 1997, the nests were left uncovered and monitored for predation, along with Snapping and Painted turtle nests. Most predation occurred between June 18 and July 15, coinciding with nesting season and incubation. Although raccoon populations were low, the maximum predation rate was high (47.5%). Proximity of nests to each other was a good predictor of predation; proximity of nests to human disturbance was not. Trapping and radio tracking data suggested that raccoon movement within the park is extensive and that raccoons may travel to nesting beaches during nesting season. These two factors can cause significant shifts in nest mortality frolic year to year. Fluorescent powder trails were variable and indicated that raccoons search the upper third of the beach while foraging.
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