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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 41:339-347 (2020)  -  DOI:

Impact of the fire ant pesticide AMDRO on loggerhead turtle nest productivity and seafinding orientation

Heather E. Smith1, Shelby R. Hoover1, Michael Salmon1,*, Heather Seaman2, Christina M. Coppenrath1,2, Sarah E. Hirsch2, Justin R. Perrault2

1Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida 33431, USA
2Loggerhead Marinelife Center, 14200 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach, Florida 33408, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Invasive fire ants prey on a variety of organisms in the southeastern USA, including the pipped eggs and hatchlings within sea turtle nests. The granular fire ant bait AMDRO® (active ingredient hydramethylnon) is currently used at some rookeries to protect nests, but no studies have been conducted to determine if the pesticide negatively impacts the eggs or the hatchlings. We examined the pesticide’s effect on loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nests at Juno Beach, Florida, USA, specifically targeting how exposure affected hatching success, hatchling emergence success, and the ability of the turtles to orient visually from the nest to the sea. Pesticide granules were placed within a 30 cm diameter circle on the sand directly above the nest during the final 5-10 days of incubation, representative of its typical application at nesting beaches. Cornmeal granules in soybean oil and untreated natural nests served as controls. AMDRO had no significant effect on hatching success or emergence success, nor did it result in any deficiencies in hatchling orientation accuracy. However, the pesticide and cornmeal control attracted other predators (Atlantic ghost crabs and avian species), in addition to fire ants, to the nest site, thus revealing the nest’s location and potentially increasing its vulnerability. Consequently, we suggest that its usage may not be beneficial at sites where predators other than ants are especially abundant.

KEY WORDS: Rookery management · AMDRO · Fire ant control · Nest protection · Loggerhead turtle

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Cite this article as: Smith HE, Hoover SR, Salmon M, Seaman H, Coppenrath CM, Hirsch SE, Perrault JR (2020) Impact of the fire ant pesticide AMDRO on loggerhead turtle nest productivity and seafinding orientation. Endang Species Res 41:339-347.

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