In situ nest and hatchling survival at Rancho Nuevo, the primary nesting beach of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys Kempii

Academic Article

Abstract

  • © 2014. Elizabeth Bevan. All rights reserved. The Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) was historically the world’s most endangered sea turtle and it neared extinction by the mid-1980s. Due to a gradual recovery of this species, a varying number of nests have been left in situ in recent years. The current study evaluated the impact of predators on in situ nests and hatchling survival using arribada nests during the 2009–2012 nesting seasons at Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. The results reveal a low predator impact, yielding relatively high in situ nest survival, with most hatchlings successfully reaching the sea. The results suggest a limited number of mammalian predators frequent the beach. This finding contrasts with historical anecdotes suggesting a great abundance of predators, in particular large numbers of Coyotes (Canis latrans) congregating at Rancho Nuevo for the nesting season. The decline in mammalian predators on the nesting beach could relate to: (1) the historic decline of Kemp’s Ridley nests at Rancho Nuevo; (2) relocation of almost all nests to protected egg hatcheries for almost five decades; and (3) loss of natural habitat for predators inland from the beach. The results suggest that low predator impact may be due to low numbers of predators. Considering the relatively low predator impact on in situ nests and hatchlings, leaving nests in situ from arribadas may represent an efficient and natural means for producing hatchlings at Rancho Nuevo. However, it is unknown if predator abundance will rebound if increasing numbers of nests are left in situ in future years.
  • Authors

    Author List

  • Bevan E; Wibbels T; Najera BMZ; Martinez MAC; Martinez LAS; Reyes DJL; Hernandez MH; Gamez DG; Pena LJ; Burchfield PM
  • Start Page

  • 563
  • End Page

  • 577
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 3