Next Article in Journal
Ashwin Gene Expression Profiles in Oocytes, Preimplantation Embryos, and Fetal and Adult Bovine Tissues
Previous Article in Journal
Effect of Feed Supplemented with Selenium-Enriched Olive Leaves on Plasma Oxidative Status, Mineral Profile, and Leukocyte DNA Damage in Growing Rabbits
Open AccessArticle

Identification of Factors Affecting Predation Risk for Juvenile Turtles using 3D Printed Models

1
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
2
U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Champaign, IL 61822, USA
3
U.S. Geological Survey, University of Arkansas Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020275
Received: 15 January 2020 / Revised: 6 February 2020 / Accepted: 8 February 2020 / Published: 11 February 2020
Turtles are one of the most threatened vertebrate groups. High rates of juvenile predation may contribute to population declines for many species, but predator identities and factors contributing to predation risk for juveniles are largely unknown due to their highly secretive nature. Alternatives to studying live juveniles are needed. By monitoring three-dimensional printed models resembling juvenile box turtles (Terrapene carolina) with motion-triggered cameras in the Midwestern USA, we found raccoons (Procyon lotor) were the dominant predator that interacted with models, followed by rodents (Sciuridae). Mesopredator interactions with models were less likely in habitats with higher vegetative ground cover. However, availability of sensory cues (visual or olfactory) provided by models did not influence mesopredator interactions, suggesting they used multiple senses to detect models. Rodents interacted with models that were closer to woody structure, likely because they commonly utilize such small-scale habitat features. Rodents interacted with exposed models more than concealed models, reflecting their predominantly visual foraging behavior. Overall, our results suggest juvenile turtle habitat selection could affect predator-specific predation risk but behavioral differences between particular predators are also important determinants of risk. These findings have implications for management efforts aimed at reducing encounters between juvenile turtles and their major predators.
Although it is widely accepted that juvenile turtles experience high levels of predation, such events are rarely observed, providing limited evidence regarding predator identities and how juvenile habitat selection and availability of sensory cues to predators affects predation risk. We placed three-dimensional printed models resembling juvenile box turtles (Terrapene carolina) across habitats commonly utilized by the species at three sites within their geographical range and monitored models with motion-triggered cameras. To explore how the presence or absence of visual and olfactory cues affected predator interactions with models, we employed a factorial design where models were either exposed or concealed and either did or did not have juvenile box turtle scent applied on them. Predators interacted with 18% of models during field trials. Nearly all interactions were by mesopredators (57%) and rodents (37%). Mesopredators were more likely to attack models than rodents; most (76%) attacks occurred by raccoons (Procyon lotor). Interactions by mesopredators were more likely to occur in wetlands than edges, and greater in edges than grasslands. Mesopredators were less likely to interact with models as surrounding vegetation height increased. Rodents were more likely to interact with models that were closer to woody structure and interacted with exposed models more than concealed ones, but model exposure had no effect on interactions by mesopredators. Scent treatment appeared to have no influence on interactions by either predator group. Our results suggest raccoons can pose high predation risk for juvenile turtles (although rodents could also be important predators) and habitat features at multiple spatial scales affect predator-specific predation risk. Factors affecting predation risk for juveniles are important to consider in management actions such as habitat alteration, translocation, or predator control.
Keywords: habitat selection; motion-triggered camera; predator-prey ecology; sensory cue; Terrapene carolina; three-dimensional printing habitat selection; motion-triggered camera; predator-prey ecology; sensory cue; Terrapene carolina; three-dimensional printing
MDPI and ACS Style

Tetzlaff, S.J.; Estrada, A.; DeGregorio, B.A.; Sperry, J.H. Identification of Factors Affecting Predation Risk for Juvenile Turtles using 3D Printed Models. Animals 2020, 10, 275.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop