Dynamics of human take and animal predation on sea turtle nests in Northwest Costa Rica

Janie L. Reavis, Daniela Rojas-Canizales, Carmen Mejias-Balsalobre, Isabel Naranjo, Randall Arauz, Jesse F. Senko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many conservation projects relocate sea turtle eggs to hatcheries to protect the sea turtle nests from the anthropogenic and natural threats they face in the early stages of development. The Rescue Center for Endangered Marine Species (CREMA) manages four sea turtle conservation projects on the nesting beaches of the Southern Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, where the predominant nesting activity is from olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea). Two of these nesting projects are based in Costa de Oro and San Miguel, which are adjacent beaches divided by an estuary. In this study, we compared the dynamics and rates of human and animal predation of nests prior to being relocated to the hatchery on both nesting beaches from 2012 to 2018. We hypothesized that human take and animal predation were compensatory threats, meaning that lower human take may result in higher animal predation, and vice versa, resulting in a similar number of nests lost to predation overall. We discuss the communitybased conservation programs on both beaches, one of which has been monitored since 1998 (San Miguel) and the other of which has been monitored since 2012 (Costa de Oro). We found that Costa de Oro exhibited high rates of human take with up to 51% of nests being extracted per season, which has decreased since the conservation project was established. Human take was significantly higher than animal predation on both beaches and human take was significantly higher in Costa de Oro. While San Miguel exhibited higher animal predation, the difference was not statistically significant. Higher depredation by animals corresponded to higher overall nest abundance on both beaches. We were unable to find evidence that human take or animal predation increased in the absence of the other threat, suggesting a lack of compensatory effects of predation. Our findings support further analysis of animal predation and a continuation of patrol-based conservation efforts as well as community outreach to attempt to merge cultural values with sea turtle conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12925
JournalPeerJ
Volume10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Depredation
  • Human take
  • Nesting beach
  • Olive ridley
  • Sea turtle
  • Wildlife extraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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