Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Maternal nest-site choice does not affect egg hatching success in an invasive turtle population.

Abstract

Embryos of many oviparous organisms are sensitive to conditions within their nest, and maternal nesting behaviours could potentially buffer embryos from suboptimal developmental environments. Thus, maternal behaviour could influence how organisms respond to novel environments. We studied an invasive population of red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) in Oregon, USA to determine if maternal choice of nest microhabitat facilitates development in environments outside the native range. We show that females nested on relatively shallow slopes and used open microhabitats compared to random sites. However, by splitting eggs from clutches between maternally-chosen nests and randomly-selected "nest sites", we show that egg hatching success was low overall (32.8%) and was not influenced by maternal nest-site choice. Our study highlights the importance of understanding how maternal nesting behaviour and survival during early life stages (e.g., embryos) might contribute to the long-term persistence of invasive populations, which is important for their proper management.