Leaving egg-eating top predators alone is good for turtle conservation

hands up who loves raccoons?Raccoons Procyon lotor love loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta eggs, as do ghost crabs Ocypode quadrata. The trouble with the often-used conservation measure of controlling raccoons at turtle nesting beaches is it lets the ghost crabs off the hook: raccoons are also partial to the odd crustacean for dinner. A study published recently in Biological Conservation suggests that leaving at least some raccoons might actually benefit the beleaguered turtles, because they suppress predation levels by crabs. Yale researcher Brandon Bartons field study found the highest ghost crab numbers and highest overall turtle nest predation occurred where there were the fewest raccoons. Go on, go cuddle a raccoon today. Source: Barton BT & Roth JD (2008) Implications of intraguild predation for sea turtle nest protection. Biol. Cons. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2008.06.013

Image: Hans-Walter Untch (photo is of a mainland raccoon, not a Caribbean Raccoon)

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