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Protecting nests of the Critically Endangered South Pacific loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta from goanna Varanus spp. predation

  • Christine A. Madden Hof (a1), Gabriela Shuster (a1), Nev Mclachlan (a2), Bev Mclachlan (a2), Saranne Giudice (a3), Colin Limpus (a4) and Tomoharu Eguchi (a5)...


The South Pacific subpopulation of the loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta is categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List because of significant population declines. Five Queensland beaches support high-density nesting of this subpopulation, but egg and hatchling survival are low at some beaches because of feral and native terrestrial predators. We quantified predation of loggerhead turtle eggs by two species of goanna, Varanus panoptes and Varanus varius, at Wreck Rock beach, one of the turtle's major nesting beaches. In addition, we conducted an experiment to determine the efficacy of a nest protection device. Predation rates at Wreck Rock beach were 15.2% for treatment and 45.8% for non-treatment clutches during the 2013–2014 nesting season. A higher probability of predation (64%) was predicted for the northern beach. Although nests were only partially predated (16.4% of the total number of eggs), nest loss to predators and beach erosion (caused by a cyclone) was 91.7%. If left unmanaged, the cumulative impact of predation and other threats, including those exacerbated by climate change, can cause unsustainable loss of loggerhead turtle nests. This study provides one of the first quantitative data sets on rates of loggerhead turtle clutch predation in the South Pacific. It enhances our understanding of goanna predation impacts and identifies an efficient predator exclusion device for mitigating the effects of terrestrial predators at Wreck Rock beach, and for protecting marine turtle nests across northern Australia and globally.

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Protecting nests of the Critically Endangered South Pacific loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta from goanna Varanus spp. predation

  • Christine A. Madden Hof (a1), Gabriela Shuster (a1), Nev Mclachlan (a2), Bev Mclachlan (a2), Saranne Giudice (a3), Colin Limpus (a4) and Tomoharu Eguchi (a5)...


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