Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Journal or Book Title
Canadian Journal of Zoology
Theory predicts prey should flee to safety when the fitness benefits of flight meet or exceed the costs. Empirical work has shown the importance of predation risk (e.g., predator behavior, distance to refuge) to prey flight behavior. However, less is known about the influence of flight costs. We monitored nesting Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta (Schneider, 1783)) to examine their response to a human observer (potential predator) depending on the distance between a turtle and an observer, distance between a turtle and water (i.e., refuge), and nesting stage at the time of the encounter (i.e., searching for a nest site vs. constructing a nest). We found no evidence that the distance to an observer influenced flight decisions. However, turtles were less likely to flee as the distance to water increased, and turtles already constructing nests were more likely to continue nesting than those still searching for nest sites. Turtles that traveled farther from water and that were constructing nests may have continued nesting because they had invested considerable energy and were close to completing oviposition. Thus, the fitness benefits of being closer to successful oviposition may outweigh the costs of increased vulnerability to predators during this important and vulnerable period of reproduction.
Delaney, David M.; Janzen, Fredric J.; and Warner, Daniel A., "Nesting stage and distance to refuge influence terrestrial nesting behavior of Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta)" (2017). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 279.