Is the presence of eggs a relevant cue for predators of freshwater chelonian nests?
Predation is considered a game between two players – predator and prey – where such pressure might affect the interactions, acting on prey and predator distribution and abundance. We evaluate whether the predation level in chelonian nests varies according to the presence of eggs in nests. Our hypothesis is that owing to the clues (visual and olfactory) of upturned soil left in newly constructed nests, predators attack nests regardless of the presence of eggs on nests. We constructed artificial nests organized in two treatments (15 with eggs, and 15 without eggs) in ESEC Taim, southern Brazil, and checked the nests during two consecutive days. We identified the possible predators through photographic traps installed near the nests, associated with the identification of footprints on disturbed nests. We verified high predation rates in both nests, which corroborate our hypothesis. We identified two canids (Cerdocyon thous and Lycalopex gymnocercus) as predators around the nests. Our results suggest that turtle nests are highly detectable by predators, and the location cues used by pampa fox to find newly constructed nests are related to soil disturbance and not to egg presence on nests.
Keywords: foraging, interspecific interactions, predation rate.
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