Buried treasure—marine turtles do not ‘disguise’ or ‘camouflage’ their nests but avoid them and create a decoy trail

Burns, T.J., Thomson, R.R., McLaren, R.A., Rawlinson, J., McMillan, E., Davidson, H. and Kennedy, M.W. (2020) Buried treasure—marine turtles do not ‘disguise’ or ‘camouflage’ their nests but avoid them and create a decoy trail. Royal Society Open Science, 7(5), 200327. (doi: 10.1098/rsos.200327) (PMID:32537227) (PMCID:PMC7277256)

[img]
Preview
Text
213947.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

968kB

Abstract

After laying their eggs and refilling the egg chamber, sea turtles scatter sand extensively around the nest site. This is presumed to camouflage the nest, or optimize local conditions for egg development, but a consensus on its function is lacking. We quantified activity and mapped the movements of hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) turtles during sand-scattering. For leatherbacks, we also recorded activity at each sand-scattering position. For hawksbills, we recorded breathing rates during nesting as an indicator of metabolic investment and compared with published values for leatherbacks. Temporal and inferred metabolic investment in sand-scattering was substantial for both species. Neither species remained near the nest while sand-scattering, instead moving to several other positions to scatter sand, changing direction each time, progressively displacing themselves from the nest site. Movement patterns were highly diverse between individuals, but activity at each sand-scattering position changed little between completion of egg chamber refilling and return to the sea. Our findings are inconsistent with sand-scattering being to directly camouflage the nest, or primarily for modifying the nest-proximal environment. Instead, they are consistent with the construction of a series of dispersed decoy nests that may reduce the discovery of nests by predators.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kennedy, Professor Malcolm and Burns, Mr Thomas
Authors: Burns, T.J., Thomson, R.R., McLaren, R.A., Rawlinson, J., McMillan, E., Davidson, H., and Kennedy, M.W.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:Royal Society Open Science
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:2054-5703
ISSN (Online):2054-5703
Published Online:13 May 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Royal Society Open Science 7(5):200327
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record