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The efficacy of protecting turtle nests as a conservation strategy to reverse population decline

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dc.contributor Tiaro & Dist Landcare Grp
dc.contributor Queensland Dept Nat Resources Mines & Energy
dc.contributor Charles Darwin Univ
dc.contributor Australian Institute of Marine Science
dc.contributor Charles Darwin University
dc.contributor Australian Inst Marine Sci
dc.contributor Res Inst Environm & Livelihoods
dc.contributor Coll Engn IT & Environm Campbell, Hamish A. Campbell, Mariana A. Crewe, Tara L. Udyawer, Vinay Collett, Sydney J. Connell, Marilyn J. McDougall, Andrew 2020-12-01T23:32:34Z 2020-12-15T22:31:20Z 2020-12-01T23:32:34Z 2020-12-15T22:31:20Z 2020-11-01
dc.identifier.citation Campbell MA, Connell MJ, Collett SJ, Udyawer V, Crewe TL, McDougall A, Campbell HA (2020) The efficacy of protecting turtle nests as a conservation strategy to reverse population decline. Biological Conservation 251:108769
dc.identifier.issn 0006-3207
dc.description.abstract A common strategy used to conserve turtles is to increase the number of hatchlings entering the population by protecting the nests. Typically, nest protection programs require regular and systematic abundance surveys conducted over lengthy periods between oviposition and sexual maturity (20 + years) to assess if this conservation strategy is effective in recovering the population. Here, we describe a methodology that dramatically reduced the monitoring period (3 years) required to assess the impact of nest protection upon a threatened freshwater turtle (Elusor macrurus). An age-at-length curve was developed to define the size of turtles produced within the nest protection program period (15 years) and mark-recapture models were used to compare population demographics between areas with and without a nest protection program. Unexpectedly, the study revealed substantially fewer turtles younger than 15-years of age in areas with nest protection compared to areas where no nest protection program existed. The reason for the lack of recovery was due to a significantly lower number of nesting females and a much lower rate of survival from hatching through to the sub-adult stage within the area of the nest protection. Consequently, for E. macrurus, the nest protection program did not result in localised population recovery and in-stream mortality may be an equal if not greater threat to E. macrurus in this part of their geographical range. The study presents a relatively rapid methodology to assess the effectiveness of turtle nest protection programs and diagnose the reason for ongoing population declines.
dc.description.sponsorship This research was funded by two support scholarships from Tiaro & District Landcare Group (TDLG) awarded to M.J.C. and to S.J.C.; a grant from the Turtle Conservation Fund awarded to M.J.C.; and the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Scholarship combined with the Honours Student research allowance from Charles Darwin University awarded to S.J.C. We thank the members of TDLG, Mary River Catchment Co-ordinating Committee, numerous volunteers, and landholders for their assistance with fieldwork, and for allowing access to their properties. We also thank the Baltimore Aquarium (USA), Wild Conservation (K. Durant), and S. Flakus for kindly donating their data for the age-growth curve. The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy are acknowledged for support of staff in training of students and supply of equipment. The study was conducted in accordance with protocols approved by the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (WISP15327814), the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (181502), and the University of New England Animal Ethics Committee (AEC 14-116).
dc.language English
dc.subject Environmental Sciences
dc.subject Monitoring
dc.subject RED FOX
dc.subject Biodiversity Conservation
dc.subject Elusor macrurus
dc.subject MURRAY RIVER
dc.subject CHELODINA
dc.subject MARY RIVER
dc.subject SURVIVAL
dc.subject Biodiversity & Conservation
dc.subject GROWTH
dc.subject Age estimation
dc.subject Environmental Sciences & Ecology
dc.subject Mark-recapture
dc.subject HABITAT
dc.subject Freshwater turtle
dc.subject Population demographics
dc.subject POND TURTLES
dc.subject Ecology
dc.title The efficacy of protecting turtle nests as a conservation strategy to reverse population decline
dc.type journal article
dc.identifier.doi 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108769
dc.identifier.wos WOS:000587339000015

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