Assessing the effectiveness of different sea turtle nest protection strategies against coyotes
Depredation of sea turtle nests, where a nest is either partially or completely predated by a predator, is particularly detrimental to the reproductive output of sea turtles and consequently a concern for sea turtle conservation efforts globally. To minimize depredation of sea turtle nests, several protective strategies have been trialed against different predators. However, although information on their effectiveness exists, information on the effectiveness of strategies aiming to mitigate depredation by coyotes, which is an issue at loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, nesting beaches in Florida and globally is inexistent. To inform future management of sea turtle nest depredation by coyotes, this study evaluated the effectiveness of three nest protection strategies (self-releasing metal cage, self-releasing plastic cage, and self-releasing metal screen). Further, to obtain insights into coyote behavior during depredation activities and inform management strategies, we used infrared camera surveillance to monitor sea turtle nests. Self-releasing plastic cages were found to be the most effective strategy at mitigating coyote depredation on loggerhead nests. Our findings provide important information for consideration when developing depredation mitigation strategies in the region and globally.